Schreyer Scholar alumna and engineering graduate leaving legacy of impact

Jeff Rice
November 13, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Quinta Nwanosike Warren spent the first six years of her professional career as an engineer for an oil and gas company. She learned a lot and found satisfaction in the work, but something was missing.

“I couldn’t pinpoint anything that I was proud of,” the Penn State and Schreyer Honors College alumna said. “I decided that I wanted to leave a positive impact on the world. I decided that I wanted to have some kind of legacy.”

After spending a few months visiting more than two dozen countries and being inspired by the people she met there, Warren found a way to apply her passion, expertise and desire to help others. Three years later, she is the founder and chief executive officer of Energy Research Consulting, which provides energy and water solutions and strategies for small businesses around the world.

“I just enjoy seeing people thrive and succeed,” said Warren, who was recently on Penn State’s University Park campus to accept a Schreyer Honors College 2019 Outstanding Alumni Award. “I have the ability to help them, so I’m happy to do that. I have the technical know-how, and I have experience, and I have a network that’s equally experienced and technical. 

“We can make these things happen but also make them happen in a sustainable way. We’re not just bringing solutions. We’re bringing solutions that make sense and are fit-for-purpose.”

One of Warren’s recent projects was designing a water treatment system for a mushroom-farming initiative in Nigeria. The farm was in a rural area and relied heavily on solar panels for electricity, so finding ways to provide clean water without using a lot of energy was paramount.

“To kill bacteria, you can add chlorine, but you don’t want to in an agricultural product,” Warren said. “You can use membranes as a filter, but that uses a lot of energy because you’re forcing water through a membrane. The third way is use ultraviolet light, which uses a fraction of the energy membranes would use. Finding little ways like that to save energy that they had available to them was really cool.”

Warren is Nigerian and grew up in Cameroon and Zambia. She came to Penn State McKeesport because it was the only one of the five American universities she applied to where she knew someone — a friend of her father — in the area. She spent two years at McKeesport and her final two years at University Park, graduating with honors in chemical engineering in 2005. She earned a doctoral degree in chemical and biomedical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology four years later.

Warren has been an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow for the U.S. Department of Energy and Millennium Challenge Corporation and is the author of a textbook that discusses practical steps for resource characterization in oil and gas.

She said her chemical engineering education taught her how to troubleshoot and think through things, which has helped her as a consultant, and that her time in the Honors College gave her a head start on research and helped prepare her for graduate school.

“Being challenged as a Scholar has made me strong, made me organized, and that helps me in my work today,” she said.

About the Schreyer Honors College

The Schreyer Honors College promotes academic excellence with integrity, the building of a global perspective, and creation of opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. Schreyer Honors Scholars total more than 2,000 students at University Park and 20 Commonwealth Campuses. 

Last Updated November 25, 2019