Student Rebecca Dever, Humanitarian Engineering

Author: Caroline Kester and Rebecca Dever
Event Date: April 3, 2019
Rebecca Dever
Rebecca Dever
Rebecca Dever, a current Multidisciplinary Engineering (MDE) student, is pursuing a concentration in Humanitarian Engineering. MDE Student Ambassador Caroline Kester conducted a Q&A interview with Rebecca to learn more about her interests and chosen path.

Q&A with Rebecca Dever

Along with your concentration of Humanitarian Engineering, do you have any secondary majors or minors?
I am also studying Global Engineering Studies.

What is your career objective?
My career objective is to improve the quality of life for communities by improving the portability and availability of water.

Why did you choose Multidisciplinary Engineering over other degree programs?
Multidisciplinary Engineering allowed me to combine my unique passions and engineering, while other programs did not. Coming to Purdue, I knew that I wanted to be an engineer but had no clue what type. Exploring the different disciplines in ENGR 133, I never came across a discipline that inspired me. When I met with my advisor for spring registration, all we did was talk about my love of service and helping others. She mentioned that there was a new concentration called humanitarian engineering in MDE that would allow me to use engineering ideology and practices to help people.  

What sorts of opportunities have you outside the classroom, on-campus as well as off?
On campus, I am involved with Engineers Without Borders. They are working with a remote village in Colquechata, Bolivia to secure a more reliable source of water for the residents. We are also designing a distribution and purification system. Off campus, I am involved with a nonprofit called WaterStep. They specialize in producing water purification systems for impoverished communities around the world. While based in Louisville, KY, I am frequently updated and consulted about new prototypes and tests results. During all of my breaks, I spend all of my there running experiments.

Were you ever worried about straying from a more traditional path?
I was very worried about straying from a more traditional path of engineering. I was worried that employers would not know what my degree is since MDE is not the norm. I expect people know nothing about humanitarian engineering, and 9.9 times out of 10 I’m correct. However, the more I talk with employers, professionals, and students, the less worried I become. People - employers especially - find it so fascinating that I can tailor my plan of study around a certain discipline and include multiple disciplines. It is a major confidence boost.

"People - employers especially - find it so fascinating that I can tailor my plan of study around a certain discipline and include multiple disciplines. It is a major confidence boost."

When people ask you about your major, what do you tell them?
MDE gives me the opportunity to be skilled in a variety of disciplines rather than just focusing on one. I have a focus in water and water sanitation, so I will be taking classes in mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and environmental engineering. By taking classes across different disciplines, I am better equipped to tackle the problems in my field. 

More on Rebecca

Rebecca is a recipient of the 2017 Bell Award for her astounding work through her Girl Scout service renovating the River Valley Cemetery in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. She spent countless hours walking the cemetery to identify unmarked graves and then created a national database that would eventually allow family members to find the final resting place of their loved ones. She didn't stop there though! She researched, tested, and worked with a local artist to create cost effective markers for the unmarked graves. Rebecca has the heart of a humanitarian engineer. 

WLKY Meet the 2017 Bell Award Recipients

The Voice-Tribune