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Today in conversation with Riccardo Zennaro, Environmental Technology & International Affairs, Class 2012-2014

Riccardo Zennaro, BSc, MSc is currently Associate Expert for Wastewater Management at the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya. He is a Graduate from our MSc programme "Environmental Technology & International Affairs", Alumnus Class 2012-2014.

1.    Why did you choose the MSc Environmental Technology & International Affairs at TU Wien?

After the end of my Bachelor in International Relations and Diplomacy, I was looking for a Master programme that would combine international relations with sustainable development, environmental science, and technology. My goal was to continue the path I have started earlier during the Bachelor programme, and at the same time, nurture my passion for environmental issues, and water specifically, and gain technical knowledge that I could use later on in my career and life. ETIA attracted me because of its unique, interdisciplinary nature between international relations and technical expertise related to environmental issues. Furthermore, the opportunity of studying and living in an international environment as well as in a beautiful city like Vienna convinced me to apply for the programme.

2.    What advice would you want to give to new prospective students for the ETIA master course-what should they know?
ETIA gives students the opportunity to specialize in both international relations and environmental technology, and this is an excellent combination for the job market. If one is passionate about a particular topic, I encourage prospective students to focus on it for example through specific classes, seminars, events, and when writing the final Master's thesis. For instance, I have always been passionate about water-related issues, and I found opportunities to focus on this topic throughout the entire programme. I had a chance to work closely with my Master's thesis supervisor on this topic already during the first year. This approach helped me develop my thesis on the subject of water allocation planning in the Tana River Basin, Kenya, which provided me the opportunity to collaborate with institutions such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and other international organizations.  

3.    How did you benefit from the programme personally? (Networking)  
ETIA served as an excellent platform for building relationships with fellow students, members of the Faculty and beyond. During the first year, ETIA students are based at the Diplomatic Academy (DA) together with other DA students from different programmes. This arrangement allows not only great exchanges of ideas and close interaction but also to get to know each other well. During the second year at the Vienna University of Technology, the class works together in a smaller environment, which allows for even closer interaction with both students and Faculty members. Personally, ETIA gave me precisely the knowledge and opportunities I was looking for in a Master programme, as well as possibilities to build networks and a solid base to apply for job openings in the field of environment and international affairs. Above all, ETIA gave me the opportunity to study in an inspiring, international environment and build long-lasting friendships with students from all over the world.  

4.    What comes to your mind when you think about the programme? What were the highlights?
Many highlights come to my mind when I think about the programme. For instance, I remember the excursions to Brussels, visiting the institutions of the European Union, and Munich, where we visited several companies operating in the field of environmental technology. I also loved the excursions we made in and around Vienna, for example to the wastewater treatment plant, the incinerator and recycling facilities, the wind park and biomass plant. The excursions were a great opportunity not only to learn but also to spend quality time with fellow students. Another highlight for me was the opportunity to conduct field research for my Master's thesis. Thanks to a travel allowance granted in 2014 by the TU Vienna, I had the chance to travel to Kenya and gather critical documents and information, as well as visit institutions, organizations, and conduct interviews with stakeholders. It was a fantastic experience.

5.    What are your career plans for the next 3-5 years?
My career path will continue abroad. Environmental and water-related issues remain my main passion. I also would like to keep gaining field experience, especially in Africa.


For detailed information on the MSc program, please visit our homepage:

Next program start: September 26, 2018

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