Internationally known potent water expert to speak at Tech


COOKEVILLE – A renowned civil engineer known for his work in the recent Flint, Michigan, water crisis is scheduled to speak at Tennessee Tech University later this month

Marc Edwards will give a lecture from 11 a.m.-noon Thursday, April 21, as part of the Prescott/Brown Distinguished Lecture Series. The event will be held in Derryberry Auditorium.

Edwards is known for his identification of elevated lead levels in the Washington, D.C., municipal water supply and later in Flint. He is the Charles Lunsford professor of civil engineering at Virginia Tech. Time magazine lists Edwards among the four most important “innovators” in water internationally.

Edwards will deliver a talk titled “Washington, D.C. Lead Crisis 2001-2006: Prelude to Flint, Michigan.” Additionally, he will discuss issues related to real-world ethics facing engineering professionals. The lecture is also an opportunity, Tech officials said, for local professional engineers, or persons pursuing continued education, to record needed ethics hours for their licenses.

In 2015, a Washington Post article reported a concerned mother from Flint contacted Edwards explaining the water in their home was contaminated. The article states Edwards did not want to face the same brutality he did in 2004 when he was investigating the D.C. water problem. However, he knew it was the right thing to do for the good of the “common man,” and formed a team of 11 people called “All in for Flint.”

Edwards was criticized by the Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Army Corps of Engineers during his research on the water in the District of Columbia. All of these organizations assured him he was wrong.

“The pressures students feel to succeed will not go away when they leave school,” said Daniel VandenBerge, Tennessee Tech civil engineering assistant professor and former student of Edwards. “Yes you may not buckle to the pressures here in school, but in the real world a boss could threaten your job, and if you were to make a wrong decision ethically, someone could get hurt.”

VandenBerge had Edwards as a professor for a graduate level ethics class during his doctorate studies at Virginia Tech, and said Edwards would often discuss the pressures and threats he faced when he discovered the water in D.C. was contaminated.

“It is our responsibility to make sure we do what is right no matter what,” said VandenBerge.

The Prescott/Brown Distinguished Lecture Series is made possible by the Prescott/Brown Legacy Endowment, which was established to recognize former professor and provost Wallace S. Prescott, and former College of Engineering dean James Seay Brown. The lecture series serves as a foundation to promote the discussion of key topics in the fields of engineering and technology.



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