Chapter Feature: Interview with ESW-UA Co-Founders

The ESW chapter at The University of Arizona was founded in October 2015. Now, in its second year as an official chapter, 15 strong core members work to increase campus awareness of ESW and sustainability. I was given the opportunity to interview the founding members and current co-presidents this past month and learn a little bit more about them and their vision for their chapter. 

Let’s get a little background from the both of you.
Filemon Rodriguez: I was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. I moved to Tucson, Arizona to attend the University of Arizona as a chemical engineering student. I have always loved the environment, but it wasn't until I met my RA that I learned what it means to be sustainable when she introduced me to ESW. I helped bring ESW to the UA campus that has a big sustainability effort in an attempt to help other engineering students what sustainability means.

Paola Colmenares: Hi! My name is Paola and I’m in my final semester as a chemical engineering student at the University of Arizona. Before moving to Arizona, I lived in the Philippines. Growing up there, I was exposed to the country’s growing need for economic development which is accordingly reliant on making use of the country’s natural resources yet balancing that with protecting the flora and fauna. Now at the U of A, seeing the university’s leaning towards research and service and coupled with our interest in sustainability, we saw a chance to introduce more opportunities for students especially in engineering with a project-oriented way to engage the local community in this matter.

What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability to us is the intersection between Engineering, the environment, and economic issues. It is a way that we can use the resilience of math and science to create cost effective solutions that better the health and lifespan of the planet.

How did you hear about ESW and what made you want to pursue starting a chapter?
Filemon: I first heard about ESW through my RA that wanted to start a chapter at the UA. Unfortunately, she graduated before the chapter could start, but I continued attempting to start the club. Amanda Tenorio, the club treasurer, saw that I was interested in this project via LinkedIn and approached him offering help. Marisa Gonzales, the club secretary, was then recruited because of her dedication to sustainability and they worked hard to find other students campus wide that were passionate about sustainability with multiple outreach and awareness events.   

Any projects you are working on? Why is this important and what inspired you?
The club is currently working on building a solar powered smoothie cart. Being in the sunny Sonoran Desert, sunshine is an abundant resource that we would like to use. This would also be a physical representation of what the club that can be used at outreach events to raise awareness of the club.

What are you looking forward to this year for your chapter?
This year will be the first transition of power from one generation of ESW members to the next, so it is exciting to see the continuing and establishment of this organization in our community!

It was a pleasure getting to chat and get to know both Filly and Paola better. I am looking forward to meeting them in person at the Annual conference in Austin Texas this year and can’t wait to see what they have planned for next year!