School of Individualized Study hosts lecture on combating growing water scarcity Sept. 21

Author/inventor David Warsinger from MIT to discuss global concerns for freshwater supply

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David Warsinger

The School of Individualized Study at Rochester Institute of Technology opens its Collaboration, Disciplinarity, and the Rhetoric of Inquiry (CoDRoi) series with speaker David Warsinger on “Combating Growing Water Scarcity: The Potential and Need for Desalinization and Water Reuse.” The lecture will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, in Gosnell Hall, room A300.

According to Warsinger, the globe is in a water crisis—water use has been rapidly increasing due to economic growth, increasing population, urbanization and industrialization. To meet this intensifying scarcity, many are turning to desalinating seawater, brackish water and wastewater.

“Desalinating can provide added benefits including substantial increases in agricultural yields, a decrease in soil desalinization and removing toxins that other modern processes cannot remove,” Warsinger said. “Costs for desalinization have decreased significantly and are often near, or within a factor of two, of the conventional costs of river water.”

Sarah Brownell ’98 (mechanical engineering), a lecturer in RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering, said RIT has been working to address the water problem in a myriad of ways. KGCOE senior design teams have worked on optimizing technologies to improve the quality of drinking water in the developing world through pasteurization, UV disinfection, pulsed corona water purification and filtering of fluoride.

“In the School of Individualized Study course called Wicked Problems, we give students experience with open-ended problems that do not have clear solutions in order to prepare them for future challenges,” said Brownell. “Finding good resolutions requires interdisciplinary collaboration.

“Dr. Warsinger’s talk supplements the course as a critical example of how research and practical implementation of projects can begin to address the wicked water problem. Desalinization of marginal water sources holds a lot of potential, but also many challenges—as his lecture will explore.”

Warsinger completed his BS and MS in engineering at Cornell University and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Currently he is a postdoctoral fellow at MIT and beginning a joint post doctorate at Harvard University. He is co-author of 18 published and eight submitted conference/journal papers and co-inventor of 13 filed/awarded patents.