Exploring Entrepreneurship, Sustainability, and Leadership with EnactusUAB

Mechanical engineering student Rahul shares his experience with incorporating entrepreneurship and sustainability into his undergraduate experience.


The Reworks team with Operation Warmth, 2020. Courtesy Operation Warmth.

I have always had an interest in pursuing a degree and career where I can work towards improving the state of our environment. As a mechanical engineering student, when I graduate my ultimate goal is to work for a company that strives towards building a sustainable world. Throughout my degree, I have wanted to explore interests outside of my degree. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and have focused my electives accordingly. 

Clubs Fair was the perfect place to explore these interests. During the beginning of each semester students from all faculties try to get involved in a club that they are interested in (while chasing the smell of pancakes). It is always a good time! Even though this year was a bit different because of the pandemic, I still wanted to participate. 

When I learned that Enactus UAB was a hub for sustainable and environmentally-friendly projects and provided leadership resources, I was intrigued. I applied to the Reworks project, an initiative that gives people the opportunity to reuse materials that would have gone to waste in order to make new sustainable clothing. Its goal is to develop a sustainable process to create 100% recycled textiles. With my passion for thrifting and an understanding of the detrimental environmental effects that textiles waste has, this was the perfect fit for me. I accepted the position of Vice-president External of Reworks. 

What makes our project so unique and significant is the practicality of the solution.We take what others want to throw away and make it into something brand new! This is the future of fashion. The Reworks team is made up of friendly and kind individuals, so our virtual meetings have still been very fun and efficient as we all have been at home throughout the last couple of months. 

As a member of Reworks, I had the opportunity to participate in a mask drive with our partners at Operation Warmth for the iHuman Youth Society. We received donations of more than 4,500 masks for at-risk youth in Edmonton, and were able to help the community and bring awareness to our project.

Enactus has provided me with many opportunities throughout the course of the year. With their extensive connections throughout the community, as well as support from business leaders, they are able to provide project accelerator grants to Enactus project teams. These grants help teams create prototypes, accelerate the process for creating the product, and provide resources so the project can be successful. 

Enactus Canada hosts competitions every year, and I had the opportunity to participate in the Canadian Regional Exposition in March 2021. I was able to work on my presentation skills, meet new people, and experience a live Q & A with business leaders. It was an awesome experience, and I hope in the future when the pandemic is over that it goes back to a live format so students can receive the full experience (which includes traveling!). Now all that’s left is getting prepared for the national competition!


Competition Day for the Enactus Regional Exposition 

One of the great things about Enactus is that there's something for everyone! We have so many projects on the go that require people from all faculties, levels, and skill sets. If you are creative you will be able to find a design or marketing position; if you like networking, there are corporate relations roles just for you. As a mechanical engineering student, I was slightly hesitant to join at first because I was not sure if I would be able to apply my skills, but I quickly learned that my skills would not only be utilized but would be encouraged. By working with Enactus, you will have the opportunity to grow as an individual and learn soft skills that are useful in any future path you take. 

One of Reworks' weekly virtual team meetings

Working on the Reworks project helped me envision how I might incorporate sustainability into different businesses, and equipped me with technical and behavioural skills that will allow me to pursue such a goal. For example, I would like to work in areas where I will be able to present my sustainable ideas, and just by being part of Reworks for a few months I have improved my presentation skills tremendously. I am beyond excited to see how else I can incorporate the tools I have learned in the future!


About Rahul

Rahul Chowdhury is 22 years old and in his fifth and final year of the Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Alberta. Rahul is a part of the co-op program where he was able to experience many fields of engineering throughout his degree, and learn where his interests lie. He is a very sociable person, who has a passion for helping the environment as well as working on projects that incorporate these values such as Reworks. Aside from school and work, Rahul loves playing basketball so whenever he is not working or going to school, you can always catch him at the gym in the Van Vliet Centre.