Degree: Master of Science in Environmental Engineering
College/School: College of Engineering & Computing
As a teen in her native Kuwait, Noura Alsarawi experienced something that would change her life and inspire a relentless passion for the environment. Noura witnessed significant fish kills over five months in the waters of the Arabian Gulf caused by improper desalination to create drinkable water.
The crisis rippled into an economic downfall since the sea was a financial resource for the area. Noura researched and learned about environmental engineering, a discipline not known in her country. She applied for a government scholarship that would bring her to the U.S.
After graduating from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, she searched for a mentor and found Hector Fuentes at FIU. He had a passion for working with developing countries, so she decided to get her master’s at FIU.
While in South Florida, she became interested in flooding from sea level rise, specifically in Miami Beach. Her desire to solve a real-life problem led Noura to focus her thesis proposal on designing low-impact development and green infrastructure for the barrier islands. City of Miami Beach engineers advised her on the areas most affected. Noura proposed permeable concrete parking lots and other green solutions for five neighborhoods in the city.
This was a huge success for Noura who says that in her country, it’s uncommon to find women engineers, and environmental engineering is virtually non-existent. Noura now plans to return to Kuwait and find a job at a water desalination plant or an oil company.
By Millie Acebal
Senior Account Manager, College of Engineering & Computing