Dr. Marissa Jablonski is a Development Engineer and Educator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is founder of the organization Engineering for People that strives to help give communities access to information and link them with people who can disseminate it. It is engineering education using a non-threatening, un-prejudicial form of communication and provided materials in an open-source format.
I have always had a passion for protecting global water supplies. After receiving an undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP), I became inspired to pursue a career in this field by a friend in Uganda working to help sustain tribal lifestyles. I am deeply committed to helping developing communities meet their basic living needs with their local resources, and my doctorate degree in engineering has given me the knowledge and skills to accomplish this goal. As a Master’s student at UWM, I co-founded the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders and immediately got elected as Co-chair and started designing and constructing water distribution systems in Guatemala. I realized this role fit me, and I have since built my life around developing international engineering projects that help impoverished communities and their residents create the lives they imagine, complete with clean water and a healthy future for their children.
My dissertation, “Sustainable Photo-Fenton Oxidation of Textile Dye Wastewater Using Scrap Iron and Pharmaceutical-Grade Hydrogen Peroxide in Reactors Made of Refuse,” aimed to improve water quality in rural communities worldwide where textile dyeing communities use unsafe wastewater practices, thereby placing many people at risk of illness and disease. This unique project uses readily available materials (hydrogen peroxide, acid, iron scrap, sunlight, and sand) to create a chemical reaction that can remove the color and major toxins from highly polluted dye wastewater. The chemical reaction occurs in a homemade container made of rusty iron sheet metal, which makes it affordable for local residents and decreases the amount of waste found in ditches and dumps worldwide. In the summer of 2014, I implemented a demonstration-scale reactor unit for one family in Bangalore, India. Furthermore, I created educational resources to help the families who dye fabrics for a living learn how to use these tools, thereby ensuring cleaner water through sustainable practices. Ultimately, my project has the potential to greatly impact human health worldwide.
After this history of incorporating complexity in development engineering designs and realizing the importance of clear, respectful communication during implementation, I founded the organization Engineering for People. My experiences in development engineering have taught me how to use the strengths of people from many backgrounds and teach them to stretch in a way that fills gaps and makes the world a smaller place. This website shows the projects I have or am currently working on with Engineering for People along with other groups. Hope you enjoy!