When Joy Marsalla was nearing high school graduation, she had little idea about what major to sign up for in college. She took a look at what she liked to do—math and science, but also an affinity for water from fond memories of family camping trips that were often near lakes and rivers. She combined the two and recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering.
However, Marsalla did far more than get her degree. Marsalla got involved in research in her freshman year, and progressed from assisting in projects to proposing and managing them. Through ASU’s Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative, she continued work in environmental microbiology to develop a new method of drinking-water disinfection. Marsalla’s honors thesis through Barrett, the Honors College, focused on wastewater wetlands.
“I got a great technical education and the opportunity to apply that knowledge through projects outside the classroom,” she says.
She has also been secretary, vice president and president of the ASU student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. In those roles, she has helped with efforts to encourage women to pursue an education in engineering and science especially through the WOW! Outreach Grant where 200 middle school girls visited ASU in spring 2011. She also assisted in organizing a major regional conference for the society.
As a member of a student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, she was the environmental team captain for two years of competition and she also gave many conference presentations. Marsalla was instrumental in establishing the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering’s participation in the tradition of the Order of the Engineer, a ceremony in which professional engineers and graduating engineering students take an oath to act ethically and in society’s best interests in their work.
Her combined academic and research performance got her into leading engineering societies and organizations—Tau Beta Pi, Chi Epsilon and the Arizona Association of Environmental Professionals. Marsalla was one of only 35 students nationwide to receive a fellowship from Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society.
Marsalla earned her master’s degree at ASU in 2012, and is working full-time at Intel Corporation on air and water waste regulations.
“I’m able to bring together engineering and sustainability practices and do something to influence the community around us,” she says.