Student Spotlights

Jennifer Jackson

Tanzania Water Project

Jennifer Jackson and coworker smiling, doing hook 'em horn hands

Jennifer (pictured left) and coworker Courtney Koepke working as student assistants in Women in Engineering Program.

Civil engineering senior Jennifer Jackson is working on project management and improving drinking water resources in the Projects for Underserved Communities (PUC) program.

The PUC program, offered by the Cockrell School of Engineering, is a yearlong course sequence that combines the need to train future global engineering and social work leaders. It’s an innovative multidisciplinary curriculum, designed to teach project management skills and develop the cross-cultural communication competencies that are essential to working in a global environment. The program is offered to both undergraduate and graduate students in the fields of engineering and social work who meet the requirements and are accepted into the program.

In consultation with faculty mentors and through formal instruction, students work on project development and design with partners in marginalized communities around the world. The complimentary skill sets of social work professionals and engineers create a well-balanced team that can tackle the challenge of sustainable development projects.

Jennifer is currently working on a water catchment system to provide a potable source of drinking water for the Mwimbani community in the Tanga Region of Tanzania. The project includes installing two 30,000 liter concrete tanks attached via gutters and pipes to the roof of the community’s elementary school. They hope to teach the community about the benefits of clean water and encourage/train them to build smaller scale catchment systems around their community.

Jennifer says, “As assistant project manager, I’ve done a number of things including, but not limited to, improving the construction methods, meeting with professionals to discuss design improvements, and communicating with the contractor.”

Tanzania has a dire need for drinking water. The country has a forty year history of failed water initiatives. Unsanitary water causes over half of the disease occurring in its population and many children are forced to drop out of school to go in search of water for their families. Eighty percent of Tanzania’s potable water has been funded by outside sources.

Jennifer grew up in Houston, Texas and attended Westfield High School. Her older sister also attended UT Austin. “After visiting UT a couple of times”, Jennifer says, “I decided the school would be a good fit for me.” She appreciates the department’s outstanding resources, great faculty, and environment.