Omar Zaatreh ’18 wins three Catalyst Conference awards

King’s Academy junior Omar Zaatreh ’18 was the recipient last week of three Catalyst Conference awards for his project “The Refugee Crisis: Domes of Hope,” which he developed for his Global Online Academy (GOA) Architecture course. Zaatreh’s project was selected from more than 300 projects submitted by students from around 64 GOA member schools worldwide.

The Catalyst Conference is a global, online event for students in the GOA consortium to share projects designed to spark change in their communities. Each presentation is the culmination of a capstone project that asked students to transform learning from their courses into research-based solutions for real-world issues. Zaatreh was the only student to win three awards for his project: The Catalyst for Change Prize, the Audience Award and a Global Online Academy Citation.

The Catalyst for Change Prize was awarded by a panel of advocacy experts who selected Zaatreh’s project for its enormous potential to achieve real change. The Audience Award was given for achieving the highest engagement from participants, including views, likes and comments. And Zaatreh’s presentation also received the Global Online Academy Citation for demonstrating excellence by identifying and contextualizing the importance of the topic, articulating a realistic and inspiring strategy for change, and engaging visitors through creative, well-designed, multi-modal presentation pages.

In his project “The Refugee Crisis: Domes of Hope,” Zaatreh, who tackled the challenge of providing housing for Jordan’s ballooning refugee population, was inspired by a visit last year to Zaatari Refugee Camp which resulted in him wanting to help refugees overcome their difficult living conditions.

His project involved designing a structure that is efficient, durable and cost-effective, in order to reduce the economic burden on Jordan. The project received praise from the panel of judges for its relevance to local issues. According to the judges, “the solution is culturally sensitive to the style in Arab countries and materials are suggested based on economic and environmental fit.”

To Zaatreh, one of the most exciting parts of winning the Catalyst for Change Prize was the opportunity to consult with an expert on the panel about ways to further his advocacy work through his project.

“I really believe I can implement this project with the right contacts to help make it happen,” said Zaatreh.