Meet Matt Parsons: Humanitarian Engineer

Posted: May 10, 2022
Matt Parsons
Matt Parsons' research focuses on the refinement of water treatment systems for rural communities.

On May 8, 2022, the College of Engineering welcomed approximately 1,700 new alumni into the Buckeye engineering family.

Meet a member of the chemical engineering class of 2022 - Matt Parsons, who combined his passions with The Ohio State University’s offerings to engineer a transformative education. Since coming to Ohio State to study chemical engineering, Parsons discovered a passion for teaching and humanitarian engineering that has led him to pursue a new career path.

As someone who considers himself a teacher first and foremost, Parsons has enjoyed being an undergraduate teaching assistant for the Fundamentals of Engineering program for the past five semesters.

“I love being a teaching assistant,” said Parsons, who is from Painesville in northeast Ohio. “Being not just a teacher, but a role model for the first-year students is something I’m very proud of.”

He’s also discovered his love of working with communities to help enhance their social, environmental and economic sustainability. While serving on Humanitarian Engineering Scholars program's leadership council, he led a volunteer trip to Lafayette, Louisiana, to work with Habit for Humanity and was a peer mentor to first-year scholars.

Parsons joined Ohio State’s Engineers Without Borders chapter, which aims to bring sustainable solutions to communities in need, as a first-year student and has been its president for the past three years. During his tenure, the student organization has experienced record growth.

“We have quadrupled the size of the club, tripled the amount of projects that we have, as well as tripled our fundraising,” he said. “I'm very proud of the community that we have and how much time people are able to spend together, while enjoying each other and doing meaningful work.”

An active undergraduate researcher, Parsons has focused on the refinement of water treatment systems for rural communities. His work is done in partnership with nonprofit AguaClara Reach to deliver a safe and reliable source of drinking water to rural communities in Tanzania and Honduras. He also assisted with the College of Engineering’s Maji Marwa project under the guidance of Associate Dean Michael Hagenberger and Senior Lecturer Patrick Sours.

Parsons has been instrumental in establishing the Global Engineering Lab in Smith Laboratory, which provides a research space where undergraduates can work on their global engineering projects.

“Seeing that lab grow from an empty room in Smith Lab when we started in autumn 2020 to become a full, operational lab that serves over 25 different projects and over 100 students at Ohio State is something I’m incredibly proud of,” he said.

The honors student will also graduate with an honors research distinction and a global option in engineering.

With the ultimate goal of becoming a teacher at the university level, this fall Parsons will join the Colorado School of Mines Humanitarian Engineering and Science (HES) graduate program, where he was awarded the Shultz Fellowship and HES Ambassador Scholarship.

“Coming here was initially a very logical decision for me, because of the combination of affordability and quality,” Parsons explained. “Now leaving Ohio State, it is very emotional. I’m proud of my time here and I very much love the school and everything about it.”

Category: Undergraduate