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AUS alumna wins international award for sustainable agricultural wastewater treatment project
As influential citizens and leaders of tomorrow, American University of Sharjah (AUS) alumni are actively contributing to the development of their communities around the world. AUS alumna Sarah Ehab Abdelkader’s dedication to developing an on-site sustainable agricultural wastewater treatment unit has recently won her the L’Oréal UNESCO Young Scientists Award.
UNESCO and Foundation L’Oréal launched the “For Women in Science” program to recognize the contributions of women to the advancement of sciences, raise awareness about gender biases in sciences and inspire and motivate new generations to become the pioneers of tomorrow.
The award selection process was highly competitive, comprising a thorough evaluation of the proposed projects by the applicants, as well as their previous research and academic work.
“I focused on the sustainable water treatment unit because climate change has led many countries to suffer from water poverty, including Egypt. The agricultural sector consumes close to 80 percent of Egypt's share of the Nile. This makes the use of drainage water for agriculture an unconventional irrigation resource in Egypt. However, agriculture drains in some rural areas are contaminated with sewage and industrial wastewater, which requires proper water treatment. This unit aims to help treat this kind of wastewater on-site and reuse it in irrigation, especially in areas that are far away from the conventional treatment plants,” explained Abdelkader.
Having graduated from AUS in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, Abdelkader is currently pursuing her PhD at the American University in Cairo (AUC) at the Institute of Global Health and Human Ecology. The on-site water treatment project is part of Abdelkader’s PhD research, which she explained is at its early stages. She is also working as an Environmental and Sustainability Engineer at a private international multidisciplinary consulting organization.
Abdelkader said she will be using the monetary reward received as part of the L’Oréal UNESCO Young Scientists Award to complete her project. “This award gives me the chance to present my work and promote sustainability as a key solution to serious environmental problems facing the world nowadays,” she said.
Abdelkader’s undergraduate years at AUS had a tremendous impact on her interest in pursuing a career in sustainability.
“I was first introduced to the concept of sustainability in AUS when I worked with Dr. Adel Tamimi, Professor in Civil Engineering, who was my advisor during my last year. My graduation project was about sustainable construction materials, and it motivated me to study sustainable solutions for environmental problems, especially in the wastewater sector,” she said.
With sustainability being at the heart of responsible civil engineering, the Department of Civil Engineering at the College of Engineering at AUS is on a mission to graduate civil engineers who are innovative and whose designs and building of infrastructure support their societies. Civil engineers have a vital role to play in improving communities’ quality of life and minimizing the impact engineering activities have on the environment. The Department of Civil Engineering offers globally-recognized undergraduate and graduate degrees in civil engineering. A recent QS World University Subject Rankings (2022) ranked AUS number one in the UAE and among the top 150 universities globally for civil and structural engineering. AUS engineering graduates have also been ranked as the top choice for employers in the UAE, according to QS World University Subject Rankings (2022).
For more information about the opportunities offered by the Department of Civil Engineering, visit www.aus.edu/cen/department-of-civil-engineering.