Omar Youssef, a University of Arizona Ph.D. student in Arid Lands Resource Sciences (ALRS) exemplifies the professional qualities UCOWR strives to support. He currently serves as Adjunct Lecturer for the U.A. School of Architecture (CAPLA) and is the President for the U.S. Green Building Council U.A. Student Group, one of the most active USGB groups in the nation. As the USGBC ADVANCE Ambassador in Arizona, he leads a dynamic group of graduate students piloting an initiative to bring sustainability education and technology awareness to underserved non-profit organizations. Omar told us “my goal is to devote my time and efforts to help others and truly make a change by transferring all my knowledge and research efforts to the newer generation. I would hope to make an impact on creating healthier and better communities for people.”
Omar was one of twenty “UCOWR scholars” chosen from UCOWR member institutions to attend the October 2015 WaterSmart Innovations Conference with most expenses paid by the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The annual conference showcases cutting-edge water efficiency practices, policies, and technologies from the U.S. and around the world, and offers water professionals from many disciplines opportunities for exchanging ideas. Omar found that attending the conference “exponentially increased my interest in sustainable water integration design strategies…I am aiming to increase water awareness to architects and design professionals…[for example, building designers] could display state of the art technologies involving water, as an education tool for building occupants to learn from.”
Omar’s particular focus is on the ways in which building design can affect water and energy efficiency and quality, and he encourages others in the field: “Architects can play a major role in adopting strategies that affect water/energy consumption. Challenge yourself to research and disseminate your findings to encourage and teach others about the different opportunities [in which] they could be engaged.”
UCOWR looks forward to a continuing partnership with the Southern Nevada Water Authority to offer talented graduate students opportunities to participate and network at future WaterSmart conferences. The complex water issues in the world today call for well-trained, multi-disciplinary water professionals capable of developing creative solutions.