The Gift of Water
Audrey Gozali ’18 wins a national award in civil engineering for her work in improving water quality.
Audrey Gozali ’18 first visited Indonesia when she was 13 years old. It was beautiful, just like her dad told her it would be. The palm oil industry had stripped the land of some of its natural greenery and lushness, but still it was amazing visiting her parents’ home country.
During the trip, the eighth grader noticed differences from her home of Chicago. Gozali’s little brother accidentally swallowed water swimming in her grandmother’s pool and got sick. Same for her cousin when he ordered a Coke and accidentally drank water from the ice. On a boat ride, she saw a young group of boys bathing in the river.
Access to clean water was a problem. And it set Gozali, who was recently named one of the New Faces of Civil Engineering by the American Society of Civil Engineers, on the path to study infrastructure as a civil engineer.
“You don’t really think about infrastructure unless you’re put into a situation where you do have to think about it,” Gozali says. “I was interested in the infrastructure because it is so fundamental but no one thinks about it.”
The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 10 New Faces of Civil Engineering recognizes student civil engineers for their academic accomplishments and commitment to serving others.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Gozali says of the award. “I am really honored to be recognized. It’s been really surreal, but it’s also been kind of fun. I’m grateful for this experience.”
This isn’t Gozali’s first honor in civil engineering. In 2016, she was selected for the Jean Donovan Summer Fellowship and volunteered in Buenos Aires, Argentina, working on a joint project between two non-governmental organizations. During the trip she helped design a natural swimming pool that used regenerative plants to filter water.
Gozali hopes to go to Tanzania as part of her senior project in the coming months. Working with a non-profit she got in touch with through the Frugal Innovation Hub, she and two of her teammates are designing a rainwater attachment and purification system.
The system will sit atop the tin roof of a school building located in the middle of several villages. Gozali and her teammates will install gutters to collect water and deliver it through a water filtration system to take advantage of the heavy rain storms that come each winter.
“There’s a lot of concern in the future, with climate change, that these rains will be less frequent and a longer drought period,” Gozali says. “So they’re trying to obtain as much water as possible to survive the dry period.”
Gozali is applying for funding to travel to Tanzania in March to implement the system. She’s also started a GoFundMe to raise money for a second trip in June. The second visit will be to check in to see how the system is working and teach people how to build their own.
“It’s a lot about making sure the community will accept it and use it,” Gozali says.