Leading in Water: Mahmoud Ali

December 15, 2023

Mahmoud Ali, an undergraduate student at Zagazig University in Egypt, was given a unique opportunity: to travel halfway across the world to study at Utah State University.

Ali chose to research water and structural engineering because of an interest in the management of water resources in Egypt, which has experienced water poverty for some time. His ambition and drive brought him to the American University in Cairo, where he learned the fundamentals of writing academic research and the proper ways to read research papers. Soon after, he came to USU to work with Engineering Education Professor Kurt Becker and professors in the environmental and civil engineering department, such as Ryan Dupont.

Mahmoud Ali came to USU on a scholarship from USAID in Egypt. He is studying water and structural engineering.

Mahmoud Ali came to USU on a scholarship from USAID in Egypt. He is studying water and structural engineering.

“This helped and supported me during my spring semester at USU as I had three courses requiring writing academic papers like literature review and academic report,” he said. “I have a lot of interest in academic research.”

His travel and research were sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, which has established the Center for Excellence for Water in Egypt. The center is responsible for informing national and local water policies, promoting efficient water use and developing innovative applied research solutions for water-related issues. The chance to help his country, even in a small way, pushed Ali to work his hardest.

Now that he is back in Egypt, Ali is spending the rest of his undergrad researching the application of conventional septic system in small communities around the country.

“There will be a graduation project which focuses on flood management in various regions of Egypt,” Ali said. “As part of this project, I will compile my findings into a research paper with the intention of publishing it to be my first paper in my academic career. I am excited to share my research with everyone.”

Throughout his semester at USU, Ali made lots of close friends from different countries, but also struggled at first to deal with the culture shock and living abroad without family. His favorite memories include watching Aggie basketball games, attending parties and enjoying nature.

“I will never forget my happiness the first time I ever saw snow,” Ali said.

In his free time, he enjoys playing soccer, chess and researching information related to his areas of study. After he graduates in 2024, Ali hopes to return to USU for his graduate degree.

“It was an amazing experience. I can’t wait to return.”


Writer: Sydney Dahle, sydney.dahle@usu.edu, 435-797-7512