Maroof Ahad is a member of the energy audit and solar teams at Newo. With a background in civil engineering and NAIT’s alternative-energy technology program under his belt, Maroof seeks to combine the technological with the relational.

Life story so far

Maroof grew up in Kashmir, northwestern India, with his parents and older sister.

“It’s a hilly region and a lot of snow,” he says. “Not as cold as Alberta, but cold.”

In high school Maroof was, he says, an average student, but his parents pushed him to study hard.

“That made me what I am.”

Turning points

Attempting to follow his sister to a prestigious engineering university didn’t go as planned.

“I tried to get into that university for two years,” he says. “The one positive thing that I can take from that is we were four friends, and of our friends, I was the least intelligent and hardworking, and we all failed!”

Looking back, things worked out for the best. Maroof attended Kashimir University, where he made great friends and enjoyed life, but also acquired an engineering degree.

His next step, naturally, was to try to get back onto his sister’s path.

“I always try to follow my sister,” he says. “She went to U of A, so, OK, yeah, I have to go to U of A. Because she did a master’s, that means I also have to do a master’s.”

But again, the path was closed to him. His application to a research-based master’s program at the University of Alberta fell apart when a flood back home delayed the sending of his diploma. He tried other institutions; no luck.

“I don’t regret anything because those couple of years staying at home was kind of healthy for me. It allowed me to grow up a little bit.”

For three years, he kept busy at an event management company that took him around the world: Sudan, Guyana and Morocco. But his sister encouraged him to join her.

“I was like, ‘No, I’m done with applying for Canada. I have tried for too long,’” he says. “She said, ‘Try one last time.’”

So he applied to NAIT. He was told the alternative-energy technology program was full, and they required a long list of documentation. He was so busy at work that he simply mailed all his original documents to his sister in Edmonton. This time, he got in.

Core values

“I have always been fascinated about the environment. That was the reason I took civil and environmental engineering in the first place,” Maroof says. “Before coming to NAIT, I knew a lot about renewables, environment and other stuff, but NAIT, it really opened my eyes, what it is out there.”

Since joining Newo’s energy audit team in the fall of 2020, Maroof has successfully studied for and racked up qualifications including AEE Certified Energy ManagerNRCan Energy Advisor and LEED Green Associate.

He is currently leading the Newo’s energy audit branch, and is working on certifications to allow us to deliver NRCan audits to homeowners looking for guidance on how to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and reduce their impact on the environment.

“I have enjoyed natural resources a lot in my life, and I’m pretty sure the next generations, my kids, their kids, they won’t have those. I’m being kind of greedy if I’m not doing anything about it,” he says. “Even if I don’t achieve anything in my life, even if I’m barely surviving or we were unable to save the planet, when I’m at the end of my life, I’ll be like, ‘OK, at least I tried.’ That is the only thing that’s driving me like this, because someone has to take a step. If not me, then who?”

Rooted in people or place

Out of all the places Maroof has lived or visited, where he feels most rooted is among his family and friends, of which he has many (as no one who has encountered his effervescence in person will be surprised to learn). But Canadians are a little harder to befriend, with their busy schedules and more individual lifestyles.

“I lived with my friends. That’s the thing that’s different from people in Canada and people back home. So, what was my life? I met my friends probably four out of six days, 7 to 11 p.m. every day. We don’t play games (other than soccer) or anything, we talk. What we talk about, I still don’t know,” he says. “Here, it’s kind of difficult for me to find those kinds of people, but I’m trying … There is always something happening in people’s life, like someone is sick or someone is not feeling well, but if you can make them smile, that’s for me. That matters a lot.”