Dr. Robert Marquez, an engineer best known for his innovations in air pollution and water quality for disadvantaged communities, spoke Thursday at the Satellite Student Union.
The two-hour event was organized by the Lyles College of Engineering and professor of music Miles Ishigaki.
“We brought Dr. Marquez to speak because he is an inspiration to students,” said Ram Nunna, dean of the Lyles College of Engineering. “His story tells us that with a good education, you can do a lot.”
Marquez was homeless as a child and had the responsibility of caring for his siblings while living on the streets of New Mexico. He said it took a lot of hard work and dedication to pursue a career in engineering.
“For me, school was the only way out,” Marquez said. “The only way you can change things is through education.”
Marquez earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and doctorate in analytical chemistry from New Mexico University.
In his long career as an engineer, Marquez has worked with the United Nations to provide clean drinking water to the people of Haiti. He created water filters and sustainable burning brick kilns to use in Haiti and other countries like Guatemala, Africa, Mexico and Bolivia.
Marquez, who is proud of his Apache culture, was also recognized at the eleventh annual McDonald’s Hispanos Triunfadores ceremony, an event that honors philanthropic contributions and celebrated achievements of Hispanic leaders. He received an award for his accomplishments in science.
“Who knew that a kid that grew up in the deserts of New Mexico could grow up and do something?” Marquez said. “There are a lot of things that seem impossible that you can do. It’s just a question of training and working hard.”
During the lecture, Marquez discussed sustainable solutions for economically-limited people. He said that it is important to use natural and native materials to create solutions for disadvantaged communities.
Marquez said that his upbringing inspired him to become someone who can help those in need.
“Economically-limited people might not have money, but they have a lot to offer,” Marquez said. “Being without money doesn’t mean you’re poor.”
Nunna said that Marquez inspired Fresno State students by describing how engineering can serve humanity.
“No profession unleashes the spirit of innovation like engineering,” Nunna said. “His work is creating bold new solutions using science and technology. His work is transforming lives.”
Non-engineering students were also able to benefit from Marquez’s lecture.
“He brought up a lot of interesting points about conservation and water pollution that I appreciated as a biology major,” said Yevgeniy Mordvinov, a student who attended the event. “He gave a good speech and was very inspiring.”
The lecture was a part of the Professional Speaker Series by the Pathways to Engineering and Construction Management Careers project. This series aims to inform students about cutting-edge technology, industry trends and how to prepare for a career in engineering.
For more information about the Professional Speaker Series, students can contact student services at the Lyles College of Engineering at (559) 278-5408.