Julie Bliss, ‘12

BA, Environmental & Sustainability Studies '12
BS, Environmental Engineering '12
MS, Environmental Engineering '14

Hometown: Uxbridge, MA

Why did you choose to attend WPI?
I chose WPI initially because it was close to home and had an environmental studies program. I really liked the project-based curriculum and seven-week terms as well.

How has WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice, and working with teams, been beneficial to you during your time at WPI?
Theory and practice is not only the motto at WPI, but it is the basis of our whole curriculum. In and outside of the classroom, the philosophy of theory and practice is lived. Through my project work and extracurricular activities, I have gained the knowledge and skills to learn concepts and actually apply them to real-world instances. These skills I have developed over my four years have landed me internships and opportunities that I would have never gotten at a standard theory-based institution.

What do you think are WPI’s greatest strengths?
What I like about WPI the most is the judgment-free atmosphere. At WPI, you can do what you want to do and be who you want to be. This quality allows students to reach their full potential academically and socially. You really can be yourself at WPI and reach goals you never thought you could.

How have the professors in your department impacted your studies and your life?
I traveled with the WPI chapter of Engineers Without Borders to Guatemala in the summers of 2010 and 2011. On both trips, Professor Creighton Peet traveled with us and helped us immensely. Professor Peet is our chapter advisor but is more than just an advisor--he is a mentor to the whole group and an educator who continues to offer insight that is extremely beneficial to the group. While in the country, Professor Peet used his humor and excitement to keep our group motivated and always offered his help to make things easier, especially when dealing with cultural differences. On campus, he helps the group by attending weekly meetings, editing all of our extensive travel reports, and fostering group dynamics in the club.

Personally, Professor Peet has helped develop my understanding of the world and society in which we live. He has introduced me to networks of people around the area and has always been someone who I feel comfortable talking with. Professor Peet has written recommendation letters for me and helped me succeed in and outside of WPI.

What are your research projects?
MQP: I am currently finishing a senior project in the Environmental Engineering department (my second major) exploring treatment technologies to remove the toxicity of a harmful chemical (PFOA) used in commercial firefighting foams. A group of five students and I worked in the water quality lab over the past year, exploring different treatment techniques and testing whether those technologies could be used to effectively remove the toxic properties of PFOA. This research is advised by Environmental Engineering Professor John Bergendahl and Chemical Engineering Professor Nikolas Kazantzis.

My Environmental and Sustainability Studies MQP portion explores the feasibility of implementing an activated carbon system in households. It explores the social, economic, and environmental implications of the implementation of this technique. This portion of my MQP is advised by Environmental and Sustainability Studies Professor Robert Krueger.

IQP: In my junior year, I worked in an interdisciplinary group of four students to test the air quality of monitoring wells on Cape Cod for harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some tests came back positive, suggesting possible air contamination from plumes on Cape Cod. More testing onsite is recommended. This research was advised by visiting Professor Emeritus William Collentro, Professor John Bergendahl, and Professor Paul Mathisen, all in the Environmental Engineering Department.

What do you hope to do when you graduate? What would be your ideal job?
I plan to stay at WPI to earn my MS in Environmental Engineering after I earn my BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies and BS in Environmental Engineering. I currently have an internship at the U.S. EPA in Boston at the Drinking Water Quality Unit. I will continue working there part-time during school and full-time over breaks. I intend on continuing to work for the EPA upon graduating with my MS

Groups or extracurricular activities you participate in at WPI:

  • WPI Engineers Without Borders
  • WPI Undergraduate Student Government Association
  • Phi Sigma Sigma Women's Fraternity
  • Engineering Student Advisory Council
  • President's Task Force on Sustainability

Academic or professional awards you have received:

  • Koerner Family Fellowship for Academic Excellence and Leadership (1/12)
  • Elijah & Louise Romanoff Scholarship (8/11)
  • Crimson and Grey Award for Campus Leadership (4/11)
  • Wayne and Kenneth Shiatte Scholarship (8/09-present)
  • Phi Sigma Sigma New Member of the Year (4/09)
  • WPI President’s Award Scholarship (8/08-present)
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