2021 William Muir Edwards Citizenship Award Nomination - Megh Patel

“The purpose of life is to give back to others.”

Donna McKinnon - 01 April 2022


As a student, Megh Patel felt drawn to innovation and entrepreneurship and wondered how he could use his engineering skills for the greater good of society.

Taken by the concept of ‘social entrepreneur,’ Patel learned about and then joined the U of A chapter of Enactus, a global, non-profit organization of student, academic and business leaders whose entrepreneurial action and social innovation positively impacts the lives of 1.3 million people each year.

Through Enactus, Patel applied for a volunteer position with Hempact — a student-led entrepreneurial venture focused on bringing free menstrual products to women on campus. As the Research and Development Product Officer, Patel built a prototype eco-friendly menstrual pad made with local hemp waste and biodegradable plastic.

“Megh is passionate about reducing the environmental burden on our planet and destigmatizing menstruation for women,'' says Nicole Sanchez, Hempact (now Ruth) co-founder. “His enthusiasm towards our mission not only helped with the development of our project, it also positively impacted the rest of the team.”

The Hempact project was pitched at a student competition event to a panel of judges and industry professionals. Cumulatively, Patel’s team of two earned $5,000 for the project, and were awarded a scholarship to a five-week entrepreneurial bootcamp at Draper University in Silicon Valley.

Patel also participated in the 2019 U of A Enactathon, an interdisciplinary competition where teams are given 48 hours to invent and solve a problem (in this case, a sustainable business solution for the food waste problem in Canada) and then pitch the idea to a panel of judges, students, and industry professionals. Patel and his team developed a startup solution called EcoBlend that could redesign the food waste cycle. It received first place and earned $1,000..


Looking for other innovative ways to connect his interest in engineering and sustainability with entrepreneurship, Patel along with four other engineering students started a construction company called BuildZero. A startup focused on providing turnkey net-zero retrofits for eco-conscious clients who want to save time, energy, and monthly utility bills by delivering the highest quality services with web-based savings estimation platform, consultation, design, and construction solutions.

“My vision is to achieve net zero in the construction sector, because as of today buildings generate nearly 40% of our annual CO2 emissions,” says Patel, “This aligns with the goal of the Paris Agreement to reach a net zero planet by 2050.”

James Donaldson, Canadian Wood Waste (CWR) Founder, has mentored Patel through various sustainability projects. Patel, he says, always goes the extra mile for others.

“Megh has volunteered to build me a newsletter for my company that would highlight current events and new projects, and help me connect with other manufacturers in the wood-waste industry,” says Donaldson. “With his civil engineering background and passion for sustainability, Megh will continue to contribute to the betterment of society.”

Patel’s generosity and compassion is also evident in his many extracurricular activities, including kitchen volunteer work with the Boyle Street Community Services, the Streets Alive Mission (Lethbridge), and the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen where he cooks and serves meals for the homeless. 

“Throughout my life, I realized that the leaders who inspired me committed their lives to serving others,” says Patel. “For me, the purpose of life is to give back to others.”

Named in honour of the Faculty of Engineering’s founding professor, the William Muir Edwards Citizenship Award recognizes Engineering at Alberta undergraduate students who have made exceptional contributions to society. It’s a celebration of citizenship and of engineering students who go to extraordinary lengths to make our world a better place. Special thanks to the David Morris Family Foundation for supporting our students and making the William Muir Edwards Citizenship Awards possible.

Do you know an undergraduate student whose volunteerism, contributions, and efforts, both on-campus and off-campus, work to make the world a better place? Learn more about the nomination process here.