As a child growing up in Ethiopia, Michael Redda saw how water determined the existence and quality of life. He also saw water used for political leverage. In the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians died due to a shortage of water in the nation's north, a shortage exacerbated by a Communist military government working to destroy political opposition in the region. In 2003, Dr. Redda arrived at UTA as a doctoral student in environmental science and engineering and worked under the guidance of Andrew P. Kruzic, associate professor of civil engineering. "His meticulously tailored academic and research guidance has become the principle of my life," says Redda, who graduated in 2008. Now in Austin working in the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's Watermaster program, Redda also offers technical consultation to Ethiopian officials as the nation builds the largest hydroelectric plant in Africa on the Blue Nile River. "Mark Twain is credited with saying, 'Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting,'" Redda says. "Much has changed since Twain's time, but there still is much truth in it."