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Penn College Plastics Alumnus Honored for Humanitarian Efforts

A plastics and polymer engineering technology graduate of Pennsylvania College of Technology has been honored for devoting his time and talent to a project enhancing access to clean water in developing countries.

Jason C. Gross, of Williston, Vermont, received the Alumni Humanitarian Award at Penn College’s winter commencement ceremonies held Dec. 19 at the Community Arts Center, Williamsport. The award is bestowed upon graduates of the institution who’ve provided distinguished community or volunteer service and presented themselves as dedicated and loyal alumni.

Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour presented the Alumni Humanitarian Award to Jason C. Gross, ’05, plastics and polymer engineering technology, at winter commencement exercises held Dec. 19.
Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour presented the Alumni Humanitarian Award to Jason C. Gross, ’05, plastics and polymer engineering technology, at winter commencement exercises held Dec. 19.

Gross, a 2005 alumnus, designed the latest version of the Wello WaterWheel, a rolling plastic water tank that benefits families in rural India and other countries by reducing the time and physical burdens of water collection and transportation. The WaterWheel also increases access to clean water due to its larger capacity compared to traditional water transporting objects – most typically, large pots balanced on women’s heads.

According to Wello, a nonprofit, social action organization, use of the WaterWheel enables women to use their time to engage in educational and work pursuits.

For his part, Gross converted the WaterWheel from a rotational-molded product to a blow-molded design in order to increase production output and reduce costs. He worked as a part-time support consultant to Wello throughout 2014 while fulfilling his full-time job duties as an engineer project manager at Keurig Green Mountain Inc. in Waterbury, Vermont.

“The impacts of this invention on health and sanitation are enormous, and this device will have a global reach,” said Kirk M. Cantor, professor of plastics and polymer technology. “Jason donated an enormous amount of time and energy to this project. It spurred him on to pursue other projects of a similar nature in which he could use his skills for the benefit of mankind.”

Alumnus Jason C. Gross wheeled the Wello WaterWheel that he designed onto the Community Arts Center stage for his acceptance of the Alumni Humanitarian Award at Penn College’s winter commencement exercises.
Alumnus Jason C. Gross wheeled the Wello WaterWheel that he designed onto the Community Arts Center stage for his acceptance of the Alumni Humanitarian Award at Penn College’s winter commencement exercises.

Gross become involved with the WaterWheel initiative through his brother Matthew L. Gross, ’06, plastics and polymer technology, and owner of his own technical consulting firm, 144 Innovations, based in Boulder, Colorado. Wello initially sought Matthew Gross’ input on upgrading the WaterWheel, and he subcontracted the project to his brother.

The Gross brothers and the WaterWheel are featured in the Fall 2015 issue of One College Avenue magazine.

They are the sons of Craig and Beverly Gross, of Dover.

In addition to his work at Keurig, Jason Gross operates two small businesses: 12×12 Solutions, an engineering consulting business, and Vermont Beard & Mustache Co., a producer of men’s organic grooming products.

As a Penn College student, Jason Gross served as a research assistant for the college’s Plastics Manufacturing Center, now the Plastics Innovation & Research Center.

He has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and been involved in various community outreach programs. He and his wife, Kandice, are parents of a young son, Declan.

For information about Alumni Relations at Penn College, visit online.

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