Dr. Omer Tatari
Associate Professor of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering
December 2015

Q: What does Sustainability mean to you?
A: For me, sustainability is recognizing that we are stewards of this planet and we can live harmoniously with nature and follow its laws. To ensure the sustainability of this planet and the quality of life for the generations to come, a holistic new approach that entails taking advantage of technological advancements, while cultivating a deep ethical and compassionate understanding of the environment is needed.

Q: Describe the class you teach.
A: I teach 3930H, Systems Analysis for Sustainability in Engineered Systems, where I introduce the principles of sustainable engineering, the use of systems thinking and life-cycle thinking in understanding sustainability challenges, and the development of sustainability metrics and indicators. The course utilizes UCF’s main campus as a living laboratory to analyze current sustainability practices on campus and enable the students to propose innovative sustainable solutions throughout the semester.

Q: What do you do at UCF to advance sustainability initiatives?
A: Primarily, my goal is to kindle a passion for sustainability in the engineers that graduate from UCF. In order to do so, I have introduced two graduate courses and an undergraduate course that enable engineering students to design not only for performance, but for sustainability, as well. In addition, I am the co-director of UCF’s U.S. Department of Transportation funded Electric Vehicle Transportation Center, where we develop integrated sustainability assessment models to quantify the socio-economic as well as environmental implications of electric vehicles. I am also actively engaged in several research projects where graduate students are empowered to apply systems thinking and analysis for sustainable solutions. Lastly, I serve on UCF’s sustainability committee, where we advise the President to move UCF forward to become a leader in sustainability initiatives.

Q: How can students get involved in your work?
A: Most of my research projects involve graduate students, however, I occasionally need the assistance of undergraduate students. Students can visit our center’s website at http://evtc.fsec.ucf.edu/ to learn more about possible opportunities related to electric vehicles, and my website to learn about other opportunities at http://cece.ucf.edu/people/tatari.

Q: What is your vision for sustainability?
A: Most of sustainability efforts currently center on minimizing waste and emissions. This reactive approach, however, is unsustainable, since we still produce extra waste and emit more than we can capture. Instead, we need to move to a proactive approach where we design a built environment that heals the planet, not continue to destroy it. Similar to a tree, if we can design and build living spaces where waste is treated as nutrients and our products clean the environment during their lifetime, there might be a chance for the future generations to enjoy the same or better quality of life than we do. In order to do so, we need to think outside of the box and cultivate a creative environment where new ideas can flourish.