Making a difference

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Bob Voss

  • Joined Bechtel in 2006
  • Recognized for Bechtel's distinguished Stewardship Excellence Award in 2015
  • Active in EWB water supply project in Mikomago, Uganda
  • Member of the Engineers Without Borders Mid-Maryland Professional Chapter
  • Senior Civil Engineer / Engineering Specialist in Bechtel's Frederick, Maryland office

If you ascribe to the principle that 'to whom much is given, much is required', then Bechtel Stewardship provides a clear path along which to exercise a tangible response.

What inspires you to volunteer?

I have a long history of volunteerism that has been shaped by my travels abroad and the two years spent in Mexico City with my family.

International travel, especially to less developed countries, is a compelling experience that will pose a number of questions about your own life circumstances and how those circumstances might have been otherwise.  Your own answer to these questions may steer you toward investing some time and effort to solve the issues you see others struggle with on a daily basis.

What activities have you been involved in?

I joined EWB Mid-Maryland Professional Chapter in 2013, and dove headfirst into a new community development project in the village of Mikomago, Uganda. In April 2015, me and other EWB team members and local NGO Mwangwe Rural Development Association met with Mikomago's local water committee to begin detailed planning for the village's first public water supply system. Learn more about this project here.

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

As a volunteer you expect to meet new people, which you certainly do. But you will also meet yourself in that mix and come away with a better understanding of what makes you tick.

What was the most rewarding part?

Seeing first-hand the challenges people face in their daily lives has left a deep impression on me that has forever changed how I view my own circumstances.

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

First impressions are not always the most reliable indicator of why a problem exists.  As we spent some time in the village of Mikomago we began to learn some of the history behind why earlier efforts to address the lack of a clean water supply did not work as planned.  People sometimes tell you what they think you want to hear.  The effort spent assessing the issues is a key element of executing a successful project.  Getting people to help themselves is the ultimate challenge.

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

If you ascribe to the principle that 'to whom much is given, much is required', then Bechtel Stewardship provides a clear path along which to exercise a tangible response. Waking up every morning, I am very much aware there are so many people who do not have secure access to even the basic needs of life. If my efforts can contribute to the quality of life of the people I have endeavored to help, their lives will be better for it.  Perhaps they, in turn, will be able to help their neighbor.

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

I hope that my efforts as a Bechtel Stewardship EWB volunteer will serve as a positive example for others but the underlying motivation to get involved with the work rests with the individual involved.  That motivation will be shaped by one’s view of his or her responsibility to share their knowledge and skills with those who are less fortunate.  Sometimes a little effort can go a long way.

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.