Great Minds, Greater Impact

Meet the Heroes that Uncovered the Volkswagen and Flint Crises.

The 2016 ABET Symposium will feature a plenary discussion with Marc Edwards (Flint Water Crisis) and Arvind Thiruvengadam (Volkswagen Emissions Scandal). In the Great Minds, Greater Impact discussion, moderated by NPR’s Joe Palca, these academics will tell you how their work has led to positive change and grabbed the world’s attention in the process.

Marc Edwards

Marc-Edwards-bwMarc Edwards was part of a team that helped bring Flint’s problems with lead, leaks and legionella to the world’s attention after sampling in Flint homes starting April 2015. One year later, he is coming to the Symposium to talk about his experiences and perspectives.

Edwards is no stranger to using his technical expertise to protect the public welfare. In 2004, he began a crusade to prove that Federal agencies, caused hundreds of Washington, D.C. children to become lead poisoned via exposure to contaminated drinking water—that assertion was vindicated by an award winning 2009 peer reviewed paper and a 2010 Congressional Hearing into “scientifically indefensible” behavior by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Marc Edwards is the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Environmental and Water Resources Engineering at Virginia Tech, where he routinely teaches a course on engineering ethics and heroism that was co-developed with Dr. Yanna Lambrinidou.

Arvind Thiruvengadam

Arvind-Thiruvengadam-bwIn 2012, Arvind Thiruvengadam’s lab at West Virginia University was excited to be testing emission levels on a few diesel cars. They hoped at least three people would read the research. Three years later, their work uncovered the Volkswagen fuel emission scandal, a revelation affecting 11 million vehicles worldwide and rocking the largest automobile manufacturer on the planet.

More than three people have since read their research.

Arvind Thiruvengadam began his professional career as a research assistant at the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions (CAFEE) at West Virginia University in 2012. In 2013, he was appointed to Research Assistant Professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, where he continues to work.

Moderated by Joe Palca


Joe Palca is one of the world’s top voices in science and technology journalism, which makes us incredibly fortunate to have him as host of the 2016 ABET Symposium and moderator of our Plenary Discussion – Great Minds, Greater Impact, at lunchtime on Friday.

Since joining NPR as a science correspondent in 1992, Palca has covered a range of topics— everything from roboticsand quantum computing to public water supplies, fuel emissions, and air quality. He is the eponymous host of Joe’s Big Idea show.

The veteran reporter and experimental psychologist by training has won many science writing awards, including the National Academies Communications Award and the AAAS Journalism Prize. He is also co-author of the 2011 book “Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us“.


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