This Woman's Turning Fog Into Clean Water for Communities Who Need It Most

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You may have walked through fog and felt the misty effects afterward, but did you know that fog can actually be turned into water? Tatiana Estevez travels the world, using her engineering skills, to do exactly that for communities in arid areas who need it most. 

Currently, she's working in Mexico, as the co-founder of Permalution, an organization focused on creating technology to harvest fog water, which can then be processed and used as a clean water source. She also founded an NGO called Tech Quiero to further encourage women to enter STEM fields and work on projects in their community.

CircleAround caught up with Estevez to learn more about her work, and how her natural curiosity propelled her to create a business that is reshaping the way we think about water. Here are three of the biggest takeaways she has to offer for those looking to get into similar fields. 

1. Focus on opportunities for a better future, instead of the current limitations

“I started thinking about clouds, how they are technically tons of water floating above our heads, and how we could use it to relieve drought and bring harmony back to ecosystems,” Estevez tells CircleAround. She had studied the effects of drought around the world, and decided to focus on new ways to harness the power of existing water sources.

According to Permalution’s website, Permalution develops projects based on land assessments, resources, and topographic needs, in a two-phase implementation process: first, with fog-oriented sensors that help define fog water and yield estimations and potential applications; then, with implementation and adjustment of fog-catcher designs to fit the needs and applications of each project.

One fog catcher can yield between 66 to 106 gallons of water per day. This proactive approach to drought relief is already implemented in over 17 countries; Estevez and her team are part of that, working with communities to turn non-irrigated land into irrigated land with fog water.

2. 'Engineering' has little to do with engines 

Born in Argentina, Estevez grew up in Canada, and went on to study business administration and marketing. But it was her personal interest in engineering, especially alternative forms of agriculture, which drove her to focus on climate change, technology, and the environment later on.

“A misconception I often have to dispel, mainly for girls and women who have the spark to be engineers, is that it is not about working with engines, as many believe,” she explains. “The word engineer comes from ingeniare, which means to use your genius to put things together and make something new, useful, and innovative. This is the basis for creating a new world.”

She encourages girls and women to explore innovation through Tech Quiero, which focuses on bringing technology and entrepreneurship together in Latin American countries. The organization offers free online and offline classes to introduce women to programming, design, and marketing, and some of the programs even sponsor professional child care services for moms, breaking down barriers that otherwise could keep women from expanding their STEM education.

3. Turn challenges into opportunities

Estevez doesn’t let roadblocks stand in her way, and oftentimes embraces them as part of her work. Some of her biggest challenges are related to strict regulations in the water industry, but as she tells CircleAround, “this turned into an opportunity by becoming the first company to help draft a fog-water regulation for municipal use.”

Estevez also knows that the promise of a reward is one of the best motivators to tackle challenges. “Even though it is a challenge in itself to upgrade the level of resourcefulness to achieve each project,” she states, “the biggest reward is seeing how an idea materializes and creates the desired impact. My biggest reward I get through my work is the feeling of working toward my purpose, which has to do with creating, sharing, protecting the environment, and providing opportunities to girls and women that need it.”

Tags: Empowerment

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

CircleAround will make financial distributions to benefit current Girl Scouts: the next generation of trailblazers who will CircleAround after us. So CircleAround for inspiration, and CircleAround the leaders of tomorrow. CircleAround is owned by One GS Media, a subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA.

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