The 2021 Soska Wilds Outreach and Engagement Leadership awardee is David Sanchez.
The Tracy Soska and John Wilds Outreach and Engagement Leadership Award was established in 2020 to honor a faculty member or staff engagement professional who serves the University of Pittsburgh through their outstanding dedication to University-community connections. Through their contributions, the awardee strengthens our institution’s knowledge, understanding, practice, and reflection on the opportunities of community-based collaboration.
David Sanchez is an Assistant Professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Civil & Environmental Engineering department and serves as the Assistant Director for the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. Dr. Sanchez is the Program Director for the Mascaro Center’s Sustainability programs overseeing the Master’s in Sustainable Engineering and the Undergraduate Certificate in Sustainability. He also coordinates the Design EXPO that showcases 90+ projects from ~400 students every semester and serves as the Director for the Manufacturing Assistant Center’s Makerspace, Constellation Energy’s Inventor Labs, the Series Workshops and some engineering collaborations in the community of Homewood.
One of Dr. Sanchez’s most impactful partnerships is with the Oasis Project, the outreach extension of Bible Center Church in Homewood. Since 2015 the partnership has introduced outstanding educational opportunities focused on sustainable urban agriculture and local food production in Pittsburgh’s food deserts. These opportunities, designed by Dr. Sanchez, his students, and the Oasis Project, directly benefit students from elementary to graduate school, and have impacted Homewood, Larimer, Oakland, Squirrel Hill, and surrounding neighborhoods. As advisor of the Pitt Hydroponics Club, he helped to establish their hydroponics systems in Homewood as part of the Oasis food production supply. The hydroponics infrastructure in Homewood has drawn visitors from all over the country and significantly impacts the community by not only providing hundreds of pounds of fresh, locally grown produce annually, but providing a space for education and foundational knowledge.
Dr. Sanchez also leads the MCSI Teach the Teacher program, celebrating its 5th year and now in collaboration with the UCLA Science Project/CenterX for Teachers. Dr. Sanchez has built new sustainability and engineering modules around the Next Generation Science Standards that showcase SSOE faculty and student expertise.