ASU student improves water infrastructure in Arizona and Africa

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Daniela Panfil — Outstanding Undergraduate

Daniela Panfil

Daniela Panfil

Daniela Panfil
B.S.E in Civil Engineering
B.S. in Sustainability
Minor in Business
Graduated from Boulder Creek High School in Anthem, Arizona

Civil engineering and sustainability student Daniela Panfil is drawn to water as her calling in life. Before she chose to study the engineering side of water infrastructure at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, she studied the business of water.

“I started as a business major — both of my parents being entrepreneurs — but I found myself missing math and science,” Panfil says. “When I started my undergraduate thesis project on a small-scale wastewater treatment operation, I greatly enjoyed the math and science and decided to switch to a civil engineering major.”

Since then the honors student with ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College has studied and helped improve the infrastructure of water far beyond the Phoenix metro area. For three years she has volunteered with the student organization Engineers Without Borders (EWB), serving in several positions: project lead, treasurer and president.

“I’m very passionate about volunteering my time with EWB,” Panfil says. “I have supported the implementation of a dam rehabilitation project on Bondo, Kenya, started a hydraulics lab project for the civil engineering program at the local university there, and during my time as president I helped organize the 2015 EWB Mountain Region Conference.”

For her efforts at EWB she received the Most Forward Thinker Award from the Fulton Student Organizations.

This spring Panfil was awarded the 2016 Greater Phoenix Area Engineers Week Outstanding Engineering Student for academic and professional accomplishments and public service contributions.

While much of her time is taken up by studies, work and volunteering, engineering isn’t Panfil’s only skill. She speaks Finnish, which she learned while living in Finland when she was a child, and has been an avid basketball player since she was 6 years old. Panfil thought about playing basketball competitively at the college level, but decided to focus her time on academic and professional pursuits while playing in intramural leagues.

Panfil has earned several scholarships and awards specifically related to her interests and work on water issues, including the Arizona Floodplain Management Association Scholarship, WateReuse Scholarship, AZ Water Scholarship and the Arizona Hydrological Society Academic award. The most memorable, however, has been winning the national Udall Scholarship given to students for leadership, public service and commitment to American Indian nations or environmental issues. Through this opportunity she went to Tucson and simulated solving a community’s water problem.

“We played a group of different stakeholders, including the mayor, tribal groups and farmers to negotiate a deal to solve a water shortage,” Panfil says.

Panfil has been working toward her future as an environmental civil engineer through an internship at the environmental engineering firm Carollo Engineers and has a job lined up after graduation at the Tempe, Arizona, water-related engineering consulting firm Hazen and Sawyer.

“I hope to work on a variety of engineering projects to help provide clean water for people locally and around the world,” Panfil says. “I also want to work on engineering projects that help provide a clean and healthy environment, and to eventually attend graduate school.”

About The Author

Monique Clement

Monique Clement is a communications specialist for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. She earned her B.A. degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. For seven years before joining the Fulton Schools’ Engineering Communications team, she worked as an editor and journalist in engineering trade media covering the embedded systems space. Media contact monique.clement@asu.edu | 480-727-1958 Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

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