A shout out to Amit S Kulkarni, the Section’s Spotlight Member for July! Amit currently works for Mott MacDonald designing facilities and analyzing hydraulic models. He has been an AWWA NJ Member since 2011 when he joined as a Student Member during his time at Rutgers University studying Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Amit has been active in the Section since he became a member on the Student Affairs Committee. Most recently he was the Chair of the Student Affairs Committee. In his time on the committee, Amit assisted with the first Filter Competition with Sophia Heng, assisted to start and support student chapters at colleges throughout the state, and engage volunteers and students in the SAC’s activities.
Why did you decide to go into the field of water? How did you become a volunteer for AWWA?
When I was in high school, there was a large focus on the environment being in trouble with issues like river pollution and climate change highlighted as the challenges of our generation. I was keen on helping people by solving their problems, even though the right form of problem solving hadn’t come into my life yet. Puzzles, riddles, mysteries, and inventors had always interested me, so the natural choice was a career in something related to science and engineering. Environmental engineering seemed like a good path for merging the needs I saw developing with the problem solving that engaged me.
In college, I helped with a water related Engineers Without Borders project and was introduced to the AWWA through our mentors, Dave Tanzi and Sandy Kutzing. Working on this project and learning about the value of water in our world got me thinking about water. As I studied the price, scarcity, and politics of water as part of a minor in Environmental and Business economics, I realized that water was at the center of a Venn diagram that merged a number of my interests: problem solving, helping people, and creating a positive environmental impact. The timely introduction to the AWWA provided an opportunity to talk to people who spent their careers in the water industry doing exactly those things. At that point, the choice was as clear as... drinking water!
What’re your favorite hobbies and outside interests?
My parents always pushed me to try new things when I was growing up and a big part of that was developing skills in the various joys of life. I learned to play the flute from middle school onwards and was a very active member of my high school’s marching band. We toured the state winning every competition and even went on to the semi-finals of a national competition in Indianapolis! When the band needed more brass players, I learned the baritone horn, trombone, and tuba. Playing, listening, and interacting with music is still one of my favorite activities.
Recently, I’ve gotten into board games. A spontaneous purchase of the Bob Ross Art of Chill sparked a discussion at the office, and I’ve started playing board games with a group of colleagues at work during lunchtimes ever since. We change board games once every couple of weeks or months, but the fun doesn’t stop. Pretty cliché, of course, that the nerdy engineer loves marching band and board games but I’m more than happy to lean in because the groups of people that are involved in both are fantastic!
I play pickup soccer games once a week as a way to stay active and love catching a “cheeky match on the tele” with a group of friends that I refer to as my lads. In the past two years, I started to garden and found that cooking new recipes with the ingredients I grow is even more fun.
I’m always keen on learning new things so if I’m picking a favorite hobby, trying new hobbies would have to be my pick!
What would you like to do in your career?
I really want to design a water system on Mars or any other celestial body. That’s been my longshot of a career goal because if I get to do that, it means the collective “we” made it out there... and we made it out there well enough that we’re looking to grow and build!