Dr. Mo Mukiibi, Jr. CH2M HILL Inc. – Water Business Group 2625 S. Plaza Drive, Suite 300 Tempe, AZ 85282 Tel: 480-966-8188 Fax: 480-966-9450 Email: [email protected]
Dr. Mukiibi earned his MS and Ph.D. degrees in environmental engineering at the University of Arizona. Currently, he is a water /wastewater treatment engineer with CH2M HILL, Inc. Water Business Group based in Phoenix, AZ.
His expertise in the field of environmental engineering focuses on advanced water and wastewater treatment, process control, water systems design, chemical solid waste management, treatability testing and design of water treatment facilities. He has completed and delivered many projects, including his involvement in the process control and start up of the world largest membrane Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) – Twin Oaks Water Treatment plant (San Diego).
Dr. Mukiibi is a technical expert (water and sanitation) for the World Health Organization (WHO). He is skilled in desalination technologies, membrane technologies and concentrates management.
Well published and with presentation at many conferences locally and internationally, Dr Mukiibi has served as a reviewer and author of the technical practice update manual for wastewater systems for the Water Environment Federation (WEF).
How did you get started in the water conditioning and purification marketplace? What was your first job in it?
Water is a large industry, a $500 billion (USD) industry that provides lots of opportunities for people like me who want to pursue their career. Water is the most precious and needed resource on the planet. It makes up the largest component of human body. Even US President Obama’s body is comprised of 60 to 80 percent water.
I have a passion for water treatment and engineering and am on a mission to be one of the people who make the world a better place by providing life’s most basic necessity–portable water. My first job was with University of Arizona as a research assistant working on evaluating the efficiency of water treatment/purification technologies for arsenic removal, among other things.
How/why did you start/maintain your professional involvement?
My educational background and skill set fit what is needed to be successful in environmental engineering. One important aspect of this industry is that it changes with time and one has to adapt to the change. To keep up to date with changing environmental regulations and issues, I am actively involved in technical committees/ professional organizations, including the American Water Works Association (AWWA), National Ground Water Association (NGWA), Water Environmental Federation (WEF) and World Health Organization (WHO).
What are you most proud of in your profession?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 80 percent of the world’s total annual deaths are directly linked to water contamination. The total number of people who die from exposure to contaminated water far exceeds the total number of death caused by arms fire exchange in all major wars–Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia inclusive. I am proud of the fact that I am able to use my technical knowledge/expertise to decontaminate water, protect the public and environmental health.
What are you least proud of in your profession?
There is an acute shortage of water treatment engineers/professionals and yet every one on the planet needs water.
What gives you the most joy in your professional life?
Since water is the most precious and needed resource on the planet, I have dedicated my life to the water treatment industry by providing technical and entrepreneur expertise. I enjoy contributing to the well being of millions of people around the world through projects I deliver. Some of my efforts have contributed to the development of water treatment products that are currently available on market.
What do you dislike most in your professional life?
There is much to be done but I am limited in what I can do to improve the industry. I wish each US Senator or Congressman had technical advisors on water issues. We would be in a better place.
If there were three portraits on the wall behind your desk, not of family, who would they be and why?
- Dr Wendell Ela (Dept. of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Arizona). He is my doctorate advisor and a parent at heart. You don’t find that often, but I was lucky. He had confidence in me and taught me the skills I needed to thrive in the water treatment Industry. Thank you, Wendell. I could never have asked for another professor!
- Two remarkable ladies, namely Dr Noel Sherwin (retired Harvard trained psychology professor) standing alongside renowned legal council Gloria Goldman (Goldman & Goldman law firm). These two ladies picked me up when I needed them most, supported me and helped me achieve my dreams. Great appreciation to you both.
- Picture of Mary, a three-year old little girl I adopted. Mary is an orphan who lost both her parents due to AIDS and was left for dead until I found and adopted her.
If you were not in the water conditioning and purification industry, what would you be doing?
Why would you do that?
I love business. I am a visionary and dreamer. I love to innovate and create technology with goals to solve complex environmental problems and create opportunities for others.
Polish up your crystal ball…what will be the three most important issues in our industry within the next five years?
- Aging water treatment infrastructure with limited resources available for their upgrade.
- Innovative water treatment products, many of which end up in major stores and become available to the consumer. Many times, it is very challenging for the consumer to select the appropriate product for a given water quality. As an example, if you go to Wal-Mart, you will find about 10 different types of household POU filters available for the consumer. In the Phoenix area, 70 to 80 percent of households have, at one point, purchased POU filters from retail establishments. In most cases, the consumers don’t have the skill-set needed to select the optimum filter for their household application. I know that not every filter works for every water quality type. If you find one, please let me know!
- Retiring work force. Approximately 50 percent of the skilled and experienced water professionals are in the age range of 50 to 65 and will be retired in the next five to 10 years. This will lead to an increase in shortage of water professionals. We have to do something about this.