Making a difference

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Janet Chang

  • Joined Bechtel 2008
  • Involved in three Engineers Without Borders chapters
  • Served as a regional vice president and a state representative for various EWB chapters
  • Holds M.S. in Industrial Engineering and B.S. in Electrical Engineering
  • Registered professional engineer in Michigan; Project Management Professional
  • Member of Women@Bechtel employee resource group

I used to think that volunteering is something you do separately, something you have to budget your time and energy for. Instead it feels like my world has expanded and it would feel quite empty if I had to step back from volunteering.

Janet Chang is a senior staff engineer for the Nuclear, Security & Environmental (NS&E) business based in Reston, Va. She has worked on a number of nuclear power plant design change projects and is currently providing technical and process improvement guidance on the Hanford Vit Plant and Pueblo and Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Plant projects.  

What inspires you to volunteer?

I started because I wanted to support my friends in their volunteering efforts. Now, it is still most gratifying for me to be able to empower others to achieve their aspirations.

What activities have you been involved in?

Over the past few years, I’ve participated in two Bechtel Signature stewardship programs. I was intimately involved in DiscoverE’s Girl Day in 2015 and I’ve been very active in Engineers Without Borders (EWB). I founded the Northern Virginia Professional Chapter in 2014, which has quickly become a notable chapter with two ongoing projects and hosting numerous regional and national conferences. I am also part of the research team at EWB headquarters where we reviewed the results of over a decade of international development projects and presented our findings at the World Environmental & Water Resources Congress in 2015. I was also elected as the President of the EWB Southeast Regional Board. My goal is to strengthen inter-chapter relationships and provide better access to information for other EWB volunteers.

What did you find most surprising about your experience as a volunteer?

It is surprising how quickly this became part of my life. I used to think that volunteering is something you do separately, something you have to budget your time and energy for. Instead it feels like my world has expanded and it would feel quite empty if I had to step back from volunteering.

What was the most rewarding part?

By far the most rewarding part of my experience with Stewardship through Engineers Without Borders is meeting other volunteers. It has given me the opportunity to work with so many amazing people.  Whether they are students or professionals, I have seen tremendous amount of work being done on the international development front and I feel privileged to be part of this organization.

What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of your volunteer activity?

It took me a while to figure out how to work with and lead volunteers. We have very diverse backgrounds and striking a balance of getting things done without overcommitting others’ resources can be a bit tricky.

What, for you, has been the most important lesson?

I learned that happiness stems from having a place in society, being accepted by those around you and being able to give back in a meaningful way. 

Do you think you inspire others to volunteer? In what way do you think you inspire others to volunteer?

Because it’s a great experience, I talk about it often.  If people are interested, I always try to get them involved.  

Engineers Without Borders

Engineers Without Borders works with local nonprofit partners and disadvantaged communities in nearly 50 countries to implement simple, sustainable engineering programs that help a community develop its human potential. Bechtel has established partnerships with EWB organizations in five countries: Australia, Chile, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.