Ali Abbaszadegan, a landscape and architecture graduate student, knows that the environment’s future is in jeopardy, but he has devoted his entire career to creating solutions without creating waste.
For these efforts, Abbaszadegan was awarded the Building a Better Future Scholarship, which goes to students who exhibit leadership in proposing sustainable solutions.
“Global warming is real. Fact,” he said. “There must be a change in the way we live, or else we are going to run out of our resources. Without change, the future is dismal. But there are actions we can take today to make the future brighter.”
The scholarship is sponsored by Desert Star Construction and was also awarded to two other ASU students, Jake Smithwick and Cindy Tsai, for their work in their respective fields of construction and interior design.
Abbaszadegan said sustainability is less of a point-by-point issue with many aspects that can be individually solved by new inventions and more of a lifestyle choice.
Sustainability is not an individual choice, but one a community must make on a holistic level, he said.
“Basically, our lifestyles now are not sustainable,” Abbaszadegan said. “But the solution comes from renewable energy such as solar and wind energy, though those practices are still largely inefficient and ineffective. But there needs to be societal movement to make alternative energy a priority to achieve true sustainability.”
He said sustainability has become a buzzword and is losing its ability to prompt action.
Abbaszadegan was part of designing and constructing the Solar Homes Adapting for Desert Equilibrium house as part of the ASU and University of New Mexico team.
Abbaszadegan said he chose architecture as his focus for creating sustainable solutions, because this subject area deals with virtually every aspect of what it means to be efficient.
“When you look at energy models, it is architecture because the majority of human time is spent inside of a building,” he said.
A committed student from the start, Abbaszadegan also said he never considered doing anything but architecture, even when he was a small child.
“(I wanted to be) an architect from day one,” he said. “I just wanted to build buildings.”
Despite this commitment, Abbaszadegan also races cars in his spare time, including a Pontiac and a BMW Z4.
He also is a ceramic artist with a large amount of intricate pieces to his name.
“I throw on the wheel. … I’m not going to lie; I’m pretty good,” he said.
Abbaszadegan said he draws inspiration from those around him, especially his family, which is always encouraging him to do great things by achieving greatness themselves.
“I’m just following in their footsteps,” he said.
Morteza Abbaszadegan, his father, is an ASU professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and has completed his own research in sustainable solutions.
“When it comes to this project, and when it comes to the concept and importance of sustainability, he’s very passionate about it and takes it very seriously, which is interesting to see as a parent,” Morteza said.
Morteza said he was very impressed by his son’s work, and admires him in many aspects of his life.
“He’s very nice, detail-oriented, an artist, and a true gentleman … though I am biased, because he is my son,” Morteza said.
Morteza said he is confident in the future for his son in the area of sustainability and design.
“I believe he will definitely be a big contributor in the future of design, creating the most advanced and energy-efficient designs,” he said.
Philip Horton, the adviser for the SHADE project, said Abbaszadegan was representative of the type of student that professors look for in the design school.
Abbaszadegan’s profound contributions to the SHADE team were largely because of his natural ability to lead others in such a complex project, Horton said.
“During the assembling process, he was able to delegate work to a group of students and help coordinate the group of student for the install,” Horton said.
Abbaszadegan said leaders should be models for the behaviors they wish to see in others, especially in the area of sustainability.
“A leader must first have a cohesive knowledge about the issues,” he said. “They must be able to practice what they preach, and not shy away from risk or the unknown. A leader must believe in the cause and have a strategy to move it forward.”
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