Bechtel today congratulated Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) on the completion of the organization’s 1,000th volunteer project, a solar-powered elevated tank and piping system that distributes water throughout Lljolla, Bolivia. The recognition comes as Bechtel celebrates National Engineers Week 2023.
“Engineers Without Borders USA helps improve lives in places with critical needs,” said Brian Hartman, Bechtel’s global manager of Engineering and Technology. “The organization’s values align with ours. It’s been a privilege to support EWB over the years and the work is incredibly rewarding for Bechtel colleagues who volunteer to help.”
EWB-USA is part of a global movement that helps disadvantaged communities improve their quality of life through education and sustainable engineering projects done in partnership with professional and student engineers. Bechtel and EWB have teamed up on nearly 150 projects that have directly benefitted more than 220,000 people in places such as Chile, Kenya, India, Malaysia, Haiti, and others. Volunteers strengthened water supplies, built a health clinic, improved sanitation, and built solar power arrays.
EWB-USA has been one of Bechtel’s global nonprofit partners since 2011. Bechtel also provides funding and volunteers at EWB organizations in Australia, Chile, Gabon, India, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom.
A new outlook
Janet Bruins, who joined Bechtel in 2008 as an electrical engineer, volunteered on a water project in El Sauce, Honduras. The tiny community of around 600 people “was flooded with debris from nearby mountains during the rainy seasons and experienced drought during the dry seasons,” Bruins said. Residents hauled and stored water in concrete containers for cooking, bathing, and other needs. Their out-of-date water storage system was found to be contaminated with bacteria and in need of restoration.
“We selected a site to drill a new well and designed a water distribution system, then worked with Armor of Hope, a local NGO, to help the community establish a water committee,” Bruins said.
Bruins and other EWB volunteers taught community members how to maintain the new system to help it remain sustainable.
Bruins said the experience changed her outlook, and she later mentored an EWB-USA student group at George Washington University.
“I love the energy and out-of-the-box thinking when working with engineering students,” Bruins said. “Volunteering in EWB showed me that there is always more that can be done. By mentoring young engineers, I hope they will continue to make the world a better place.”