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Engineering a Better Tomorrow

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 17:57


Photo Credit: 

Matt Perko

From field hockey to studying abroad to Engineers Without Borders, this girl has done it all. Meet Jess Hauck, a soon-to-be graduate with a major in chemical engineering and a love for her campus.

It was the summer before her senior year of high school that led Jess to where she is today. Unsure what she wanted to pursue in college, she followed her mother’s footsteps and enrolled in an engineering camp. During this project-based, hands-on experience, Jess solved problems in real-life scenarios while applying her love for math and science. Realizing her passion for this field, she applied to UC Santa Barbara as a chemical engineering major.

While walking around campus at Spring Insight, Jess was drawn to one particular club. UCSB’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB) chapter was founded in 2003 and has grown to 80 student members with the vision to make a positive impact on local and international communities. She joined the club her freshman year and became instantly involved. By her sophomore year, she was vice president, and she went on to become president for her junior and senior years.

It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t impossible. While Jess was handed much responsibility, she worked harder than ever for a cause she believed in. Before she knew it, she was overseeing more than 50 active members from an array of majors such as engineering, biology, physics and political science. Since 2007, EWB-UCSB has had a presence in Luanda, Kenya, working with local communities to provide clean water and improve health care facilities. In August 2016, Jess and her fellow officers planned a two-week monitoring trip back to the small town to talk to the residents. The trip focused on understanding what could be done better and what could be done next to further expand their well system. “It was incredible to learn from them,” Jess said. “We want to become part of their community and work to cater to their needs.”

In the face of academic challenges, Jess was motivated by many of her professors and peers to keep on keepin’ on. Professor Michelle O’Malley, who was assigned as Jess’ department adviser since freshman year, pushed Jess as both a mentor and a role model to reach her highest potential. Jess has worked in O’Malley’s lab since her sophomore year and has even been inspired to pursue her doctorate due to O’Malley’s support. “She believed in me since the beginning, and that’s a really powerful feeling,” Jess said.

In addition to being a leader in her department, Jess wanted to be involved in other facets of campus life. She joined the club field hockey team while also playing intramural soccer throughout the year. Looking for a way to show off her campus pride (and backward walking skills), Jess became a tour guide with the Gaucho Tour Association. She also studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh her junior year. She discovered her love for Scotland and hopes to return one day to pursue her Ph.D. there.

What’s next for this Gaucho? Jess is moving to Santa Cruz to work for a start-up called Chemetry, which is dedicated to the development of environmentally sustainable chemical processes, or “green chemistry.” While Jess is off to do bigger and better things, she knows she’ll miss not only the friendly people at UC Santa Barbara but also being around so much innovation. We’ll miss you just as much as you’ll miss us, Jess!

Written by Miranda Chan