Environmental Engineering student hopes to implement new desalination technologies

Norma 250[M]y name is Norma Nohemi Villagómez-Marquez and I am the oldest of two siblings and a first generation college student. My father has worked on farms all his life, and my mother has been a wonderful stay at home mother. In my culture, graduating from a university amounts to an outstanding achievement, since only a finite amount of Latin American students accomplish their educational goals. Many Latinos, although they possess the intelligence and desire to graduate college, do not because they are unable to finance a college education. Personally, coming from a low-income family, the mere fact of attending a university and receiving an education is very valuable and highly appreciated.

Today I am a second-year master’s student at the University of Arizona in the Chemical and Environmental Engineering department. My major is in Environmental Engineering and my thesis centers around desalination using advanced membrane technologies like Reverse Osmosis, (RO) and Electrodialysis Reversal, (EDR). Currently, I am a research assistant in Shane Snyder’s Research Group and a teacher’s assistant for a chemical engineering undergraduate course titled Water and Energy: Conventional and Alternative systems. In addition to working with water treatment technologies, I am an active member of various student-led clubs/organizations. Of the various clubs I participate in, Engineers without Borders is one I am most actively involved with. This summer our chapter and I will travel to Marquirivi, Bolivia to build three latrines for the people of the community ( ).

Water shortage is a problem that becomes more serious as time passes, and population continues to increase. In the last fifty years, the earth’s population has doubled yet the amount of drinking water available has become less. Desalination is a great way to combat this worldwide water shortage crisis. As of now, however, desalination technologies continue to be costly. Therefore, the goal should be to develop technologies that can be implemented at a large scale and at the same time be cost effective.

My goals and objectives will be towards the betterment of the environment specifically aiding our water shortage crisis by using engineering to further research and implement new systems of cleaner and cheaper desalination technologies. An example of this type of technology is Electrodialysis Reversal, (EDR). Electrodialysis Reversal is an advanced membrane desalination technology resulting in an electrochemical separation process. It is based on the selective transport of ions from one solution to another through ion-exchange membranes under the driving force of an electrochemical potential gradient. Although it is electricity driven, many are starting to operate EDR plants with solar energy. Moreover, since EDR operates without the need of additional chemicals, the system is considered environmentally friendly further motivating its implementation.

I am applying to your scholarship because your support is essential to continue my graduate studies. It is an honor to be of consideration, and I am extremely thankful for the opportunity. If selected, your funding will go towards the advancement of my current research.

We are proud to announce Norma Nohemi Villagómez-Marquez is one of the current LatPro Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘star’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.

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1 comment

  • first you must be profesional in the suebjct you are teaching , and you should have a good knowledge about your students and know how to teach them though the easiest and proper way hope it will be useful