Student Star: Matthew Hendrix

Engineering a better environment

Name: Matthew Hendrix
Major: Environmental Engineering
Graduation: Spring 2011

“It feels incredible to apply what I've learned at FSU to one of the most critical challenges — safe, reliable sources of drinking water — facing people in impoverished countries.”

For Matthew Hendrix, a proud member of the humanitarian organization Engineers Without Borders, it’s all about cleaning up the toxic messes that threaten safe drinking water around the world.

This emerging environmental engineer is focused on fixing the damage caused not only by calamitous, news-making oil spills but also by the insidious, everyday petroleum discharges that seep from sources such as gas stations.

“I’m passionate about universal access to clean water and a safe environment,” Matthew said. “That’s the main reason I chose to major in environmental engineering at Florida State.”

Born in Kansas City, Mo., and raised in the South Florida city of Plantation, Matthew believes that FSU’s interdisciplinary research opportunities and strategic location in the Gulf region make it the perfect place both for the engineering bachelor’s degree he recently earned (with honors) and the master’s degree he’ll begin pursuing come fall 2011.

Fuel for his forthcoming master’s thesis, “Oil Spill Impacts and Remediation,” will come from throughout the university — home to many of the innovative scientists and engineers who continue to play key research and advisory roles on the heels of the 2010 BP oil spill.

Meanwhile, after garnering several engineering job offers during his senior year at FSU, Matthew is currently working full time in his chosen field, and not for the first time.

“As a recent FSU graduate, I’ve had two different environmental engineering jobs with companies involved in the remediation of soil and groundwater that have been impacted by things like petroleum leaks and dry-cleaner solvent spills, which are known carcinogens that jeopardize human health when they are close to drinking water sources,” he said. “And as an undergraduate, I interned for a year at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.”

A serious student, Matthew has nonetheless made involvement in the engineering community beyond the classroom a priority.

“My volunteer work with ‘Engineers Without Borders’ has been especially rewarding,” he said. “It feels incredible to apply what I’ve learned at FSU to one of the most critical challenges — safe, reliable sources of drinking water — facing people in impoverished countries.”

Matthew also is a founding member of the Florida A&M University-Florida State University chapter of the Florida Water Environment Federation. And in recognition of his standout scholarship and character, the national engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi has invited him into its distinguished ranks.

“With two engineering degrees from FSU,” said Matthew, “I’ll be well prepared to put my passion for the environment to work in ways that help restore it and change, even save, lives.”

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