Clearing the Air

Spring 2024

Photo of Jessica Jeffrey standing in a car showroom
Jessica Jeffery

By the time Jessica Jeffery, MS ’19, entered middle school in Butte Montana, she had already decided to pursue a career in the field of environmental engineering. Living in an area with polluted water and land due to a century of copper mining had a strong impact on her.

“I wanted to make sure that others didn’t have to grow up with mining waste right out their back door,” says Jeffery, who earned her master’s degree in environmental planning and management from the Whiting School’s Engineering for Professionals (EP) program.

Today, as a staff environmental engineer with General Motors in Detroit, Jeffery works cross-functionally with executives, regulatory agencies, and corporate partners as she provides technical direction and regulatory guidance to GM manufacturing facilities across the country.

One of her recent projects was overseeing the construction of Ultium Cells, a battery cell manufacturing facility in Warren, Ohio, in a joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution. “About 90% of my work is focused on electric vehicles and battery cell facilities,” says Jeffery, who is currently providing her environmental regulatory expertise for another battery cell facility in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

As a subject matter expert for environmental regulations related to the construction and operation of new battery cell manufacturing facilities, Jeffery’s areas of expertise include the in-depth understanding of and compliance with all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acts, including the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act, a law that ensures new chemicals are safe for use.

Jeffery says the EP’s part-time curriculum allowed her to pursue her advanced degree while working full time. Out of several standout online classes, Kelly Tzoumis’ Environmental Justice was one of the most noteworthy, as the instructor taught in a “unique and impactful” style. Jeffery said that Tzoumis used various media to highlight areas of the country suffering a disproportionate amount of pollution and the laws in place to ensure equal protection for those communities.

“I continue to learn new skills in my manufacturing career,” says Jeffery. “And I still find it fascinating that you can take a piece of metal and make an entire vehicle out of it. It’s also a privilege to work with my fellow GM employees and the teams working at the manufacturing facilities. My goal is to continue to find ways to strive for clean air while leveraging technology to improve our impact on the environment.”

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