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ECLIPSE 2017 @ Georgia Tech

On August 21, 2017, several events will be held in the area of the Kessler Campanile in order to celebrate the solar eclipse, which will cover 97% of the sun when viewed from campus. Protective glasses will be provided. Activities will include livestream video of the eclipse from the Georgia Tech Observatory, astronomy-themed music and snacks, hands-on activities, and more. The eclipse itself will occur at approximately 2:37 p.m.

Five Minutes Matter: First Impressions with Marta Hatzell

Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Marta Hatzell

You can learn a lot about someone in just five minutes, and first impressions can leave a lasting impact. Sometimes, it only takes five minutes to learn something new, connect over shared interests, or change a person’s mind. It’s just enough time to leave an indelible mark that can last a lifetime. 

Today, we sat down with Marta Hatzell, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, for five minutes to see what we could discover.


Water purification is one of today’s greatest healthcare crises, and rightly so—more than 800 million people around the world don’t have access to safe drinking water. There are dozens of ways that one can go about producing clean water, from desalination to chlorination, and everyone has an opinion on which is best.

Marta Hatzell, assistant professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, has her own  theory: using electrochemistry might just be the perfect solution. Electrochemistry is the study of chemical processes that cause electrons to move. Through recovery of low-grade waste heat, Hatzell hopes to discover new thermodynamic cycles that will utilize the heat generated by electricity, as well as the electrical charges of molecules in unclean water to desalinate and clean it.

Even beyond purifying water, Hatzell believes that with further development, electrochemical technologies will be able to perform tasks that are currently completed through thermal processes, such as creating fuels. Her research team in the WATER Lab deals with purifying water, as well as creating a specific type of fuel: fertilizer, which fuels plants and therefore the rest of the organisms on Earth. The development of a more environmentally-conscious method of fertilizer production could decrease greenhouse gas emission and encourage sustainable agriculture.

“The price of electricity is decreasing, so we can now easily access it, and we want to figure out if there are better and more creative ways to use those electrons than just sending them to our homes,” said Hatzell. “Can we make fertilizer from electricity? Can we clean water using electricity?”

Hatzell says that she has always been fascinated with sustainability and energy. She fell in love with electrochemistry as an undergraduate researcher at Pennsylvania State University and throughout her journey has altered her focus as her interests within the field of electrochemistry have shifted.

“I wanted to do a Ph.D. focused on water because I thought that water is always going to be a large issue no matter where you are or who you are,” said Hatzell. “First I worked on fuel cells for fuel cell vehicles, and then transitioned to water treatment. Now we're going toward fertilizer production.”

Hatzell has only been on Georgia Tech’s faculty since 2015. Since then, she has managed to get her own lab up and running, and she even has a grant from the National Science Foundation backing her research. This money supports research to investigate low cost decentralized water treatment as a substitute for a large central water treatment plant in communities.

A decentralized water treatment system would help immensely in situations such as the one that has been afflicting Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands in the wake of recent hurricanes. Since power outages have impeded the ability to clean and pump water to wherever it is needed, a decentralized system might provide a steady source of clean water in a situation where a central treatment center might have failed or been destroyed.

“We want to offer people decentralized water treatment that is easily powered with a battery device,” said Hatzell. “When power shortages occur, the community would be able to use backup power to clean water.”

Hatzell’s work has the potential to impact people all over the world. But she’s also making an impact closer to home through the classroom by empowering her students. Hatzell takes great satisfaction from teaching thermodynamics and electrochemical energy classes to a variety of engineering students.

“The defining moment is when I start to see students take ownership of the classroom,” said Hatzell. “When I can see it become more of a collaborative learning environment, that’s when I start to feel like teaching has really hit its stride.”

The coming years are sure to bring more effective solutions for clean water and fertilizer production, and Hatzell plans to be on the front lines of the research that will make it a reality.

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ME Alumnus Pulls Out All the Stunts

Friday, November 17, 2017
Eyre's stunts, hanging upside down

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Five Minutes Matter: First Impressions with Jeff Davis

Thursday, November 16, 2017
Jeff Davis teaches children in Haiti

You can learn a lot about someone in just five minutes, and first impressions can leave a lasting impact. Sometimes, it only takes five minutes to learn something new, connect over shared interests, or change a person’s mind. It’s just enough time to leave an indelible mark that can last a lifetime. 

Today, we sat down with ECE Professor Jeff Davis for five minutes to see what we could discover.


Armed with over a decade of electrical engineering education at Tech, Jeff Davis uses his knowledge to look for ways to improve the world around him.

Davis, associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, obtained his undergraduate, masters, and Ph.D. degrees from Georgia Tech. He has worked as a faculty member ever since.

“I like exploring new ideas and it seemed like the best place to be,” Davis said. “That’s what attracted me about Tech.”

 Davis truly enjoys being a mentor to students, regardless of their age. Through his involvement in Tech’s student faculty committee, he helped create a Lego robotics competition for middle school students when he found that some students were interested in community outreach.

The program grew exponentially in its first 10 years, and is now known as the Georgia FIRST Lego League. Georgia Tech hosts the state championship tournament for this competition every year. The program now facilitates hundreds of teams all across the state and is handled by the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing. Davis says that growing this program, which is often a student’s first experience with robotics, was one of his defining moments at Georgia Tech.

Davis’ penchant for impacting both students and society carries over to his involvement with the Grand Challenges Living Learning Community, where he is the faculty co-director of the program. The program, which students can participate in for their entire time at Tech, organizes students who are passionate about saving the world into groups that will aim to solve the biggest issues facing humanity, such as agricultural issues, lack of clean water, human trafficking, lacking education systems and many more. He says the program aligns closely with his philosophy and he loves teaching and interacting with the students.

Davis teaches children in HaitiDavis himself is interested in helping his fellow humans. On several mission trips to a small mountain village in Haiti called Chadic, he and fellow members of his church have tried to help the leaders in the community expand agriculture through growing coffee, building a centralized filtration system for clean water and helping construct a school for the children.

“I love going to Haiti,” said Davis. “Although my French Creole is limited, I have found that working alongside the community is the best way for them to know that you care for their well-being.”

Davis was attracted to Tech because he recognized a place where he could explore new ideas and make a difference. Teaching itself creates a huge impact on the hearts and minds of students, and research can also have positive influence on the world. Davis might even be able to help the environment through his research.

Discoveries made in his lab, which investigates the electrical properties of nanocomposite materials, could potentially have significant benefits on the environment as well as waste management. Through the creation of capacitors that could be used to replace the traditional lithium-ion battery as a better form of energy storage, harmful waste produced by the disposal of batteries could be decreased.

Between all of this, when he has the spare time, Davis likes to work with his hands.

“I think that’s why I’m more of an engineer than a scientist – I like to build things. I like to see them working,” Davis said. “I think any hobby that has a result, either an artistic result or otherwise…there’s something very satisfying about that for me.”

Perhaps working on an extremely small scale with wires and even materials on a nanoscale gives him an exceptional attention to detail; in any case, Davis enjoys making things and making a difference, from outreach programs to microchips.

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Davis teaches children in Haiti

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Designing the Next Generation of Airplane Wings

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Professor Kennedy and Graduate Researchers

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