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Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

Joe Spaulding helped start a on-campus food pantry to help students, faculty and staff in need

April 2, 2014

Spaulding has been an enthusiastic advocate of Paw’s Pantry since the facility opened its doors.

Spaulding has been an enthusiastic advocate of Paw’s Pantry since the facility opened its doors.

Joe Spaulding seems to have been destined for a career in engineering from his time as a young child playing with Legos.

But these days, the Engineering and Technology student is building a career with a different outcome in mind: helping others.

For instance, the Westfield native helped IUPUI launch Paw’s Pantry, a campus-based food pantry to help students, faculty and staff in need. He and a friend won the SPEA 5x5 Challenge last fall, using a Spaulding-designed rooftop garden that would help grow food for the campus community. And Spaulding is a Sam H. Jones Community Service Scholar, a role he has relished throughout his IUPUI career as he participated in volunteer events from the United Way Day of Caring to the MLK Day of Service.

Spaulding has been interested in helping others back to his days at Westfield High School. “I wanted to go to Africa on a mission trip with other students,” he said. Instead, he got involved in volunteerism in the Indianapolis area.

At IUPUI, he quickly connected with the Sam H. Jones Community Service Scholarships program. “The Jones program helped me grow and learn how to serve,” Spaulding said. One of the ways he learned was to use his education from the School of Engineering and Technology to assist others.

Last fall, he and fellow student Derek Dixon won a Campus Sustainability Day Idea competition by proposing rooftop gardens at IUPUI that would produce food for Paw’s Pantry. Spaulding’s concept won a Greening Grant.

Joe Spaulding and Derek Dixon

Joe Spaulding, left, and Derek Dixon shared a Greening Grant last fall with their proposal to establish rooftop gardens on campus buildings.

Spaulding, who will be honored this spring as a Top 100 student, finds many ways to support Paw’s Pantry, which, he said, “has just exploded since it opened last year.” The cool thing, he said, is that the facility is student-run.

“We knew there was a need; we just didn’t know how big the need was,” Spaulding said. “My biggest fear is that somebody will come into Paw’s Pantry and we won’t be able to meet the need.” It hasn’t happened yet, he added, but there is no guarantee that it won’t.

Working at Paw’s Pantry has been an education unto itself. “Everyone has something to offer to make the world a better place,” Spaulding said. “It can be as simple as knowing how to cook, to being a certified public accountant -- everyone has something to offer.”

He laughs as he admits his own background includes “a bizarre set of skills and passions. I'm an engineering major with a love of art and sustainability, who really enjoys running a food pantry. I have no idea what to do with all of that, career-wise! But I'm sure I'll find it. It may not be what I'm expecting, but I'll find it,” said Spaulding, who will earn his degree in May 2015.