Pooja Chari Named as AWWA 5 Under 35 During 2024 Annual Conference

During the American Water Works Association (AWWA) 2024 Annual Conference & Expo in Anaheim, California, our very own Pooja Chari, PE, received the association’s 5 Under 35 – Outstanding Young Professional Award. Introduced in 2021, the award recognizes and honors active AWWA members under age 35 who demonstrate outstanding service at the regional section level and the association level through leadership and active participation in young professional programs.

Originally from India, Pooja studied chemical engineering as an undergraduate student at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai. She then obtained a postgraduate diploma from the Dimensional Academy of Engineering in water and wastewater treatment, before enrolling in an environmental engineering graduate program at the University of Cincinnati, where she graduated with a Master of Science in 2017.

While completing her undergraduate studies, Pooja commuted via train to and from school. She says, “There was this one river the train would pass over that was super polluted, and it made me feel like I want to do something about it and try and help the environment in some way. That’s why I decided to do a master’s in environmental engineering and become a water and wastewater engineer.”

Pooja was initially an active member of the Ohio Section AWWA before she was selected through a competitive application process to be a member of the AWWA Young Professionals Committee (YPC) in 2018. During her six years on the YPC, Pooja chaired the Student Outreach Subcommittee and served in Programming and Event Chair positions for the joint AWWA/WEF Young Professional Summit and AWWA Young Professionals Leader Day, annual events held in conjunction with the AWWA/WEF Utility Management Conference. Additionally, Pooja served as a council liaison between the YPC and AWWA’s Technical and Educational Council and continues to serve on a variety of technical committees. In 2023, Pooja was appointed to AWWA’s International Council. Pooja also participated in the Social and Demographics Think Tank in Birmingham, Alabama as part of AWWA’s Water 2050 initiative.

“The above is only a summary of Pooja’s contributions to the association. This award is the perfect culmination of Pooja’s volunteer service to the YPC,” says Renee Lanza, Woodard & Curran Senior Technical Manager and YPC member. “As Pooja’s two terms on the committee come to an end, this is an incredible recognition of her many contributions to the organization, and the water industry, to further programming for young professionals and students. Under her leadership, the committee has increased virtual student programming and experienced incredible growth in the program, as well as more interest in the AWWA/WEF YP Summit. Pooja is the kind of person who always raises her hand to help, and she embodies the spirit of AWWA.”

Pooja joined Woodard & Curran in 2021, based in our Canton office. As a project engineer, she is focused primarily on water and wastewater treatment plant improvements, pump station design, and construction services for our municipal clients.

AWWA 5 Under 35

Pooja Chari, PE

Listen to Pooja talk about her path to becoming a project engineer at Woodard & Curran.


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