Plugging into Community Service

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Community Engineering Corps


Building a Community

I recently joined a group of five students from the Engineering Without Borders student chapter at the University of Colorado Boulder for a service engineering trip to Puerto Rico to work with the community of Mulas.

During this week-long trip, the students and I gathered important data to design a new water distribution system for the community. During our assessment, we were able to generate a map by gathering GPS data of different points of interest and tracking our steps while exploring every corner of the community.


Gaining Management Experience Through Pre-College Outreach

Learn valuable management skills while volunteering to promote civil engineering to the next generation.


Get involved with your local library

Project BUILD helps engineers become more confident in their outreach efforts.


Inspire the Next Generation

Learn how to set up and run a civil engineering club, identify school partners and inspire local high school students.

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Community Service

  • 1.  Community Service

    Posted 09-13-2019 04:44 PM
    Giving back to your community is also a great way to improve yourself personally and professionally. Please use this space to share how giving back has impacted your life/career.

    Tirza Austin
    Senior Coordinator, Online Community
    American Society of Civil Engineers
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive
    Reston, VA 20191

  • 2.  RE: Community Service

    Posted 09-14-2019 10:28 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 09-14-2019 10:27 AM
    Would highly recommend giving back. I have Bachelor's and MS degrees in environmental engineering, but after graduation I joined a faith-based service corps to be a full-time volunteer instead of going directly into industry. It was an amazing experience, and I recently decided to stay on at my nonprofit job for one more year, now as a paid staff member.

    This form of intentional community service has definitely broadened my perspective and influenced my priorities. I do not think it has diminished my prospects of working in engineering down the road, as I got a few offers in my field of study this summer before deciding to defer working in engineering for one more year. I have made some great professional connections through my job and gained many soft skills that I think will make me a better engineer when the time comes.

    Katie Little

  • 3.  RE: Community Service

    Posted 09-16-2019 10:10 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 09-16-2019 10:10 AM
    Giving back has been a great way for me to develop leadership skills. Initially I would get involved with volunteer events as a doer only. As time progressed I was asked if I could get involved with various other planning and leadership positions. Especially in ASCE, once you get into leadership pos​itions, you get invited to the many different leadership meetings where you can receive additional leadership training. In addition, when leading a group of volunteers, you learn that at any point a volunteer can walk away from a leader if they do not agree with that groups leadership and it is hard to get volunteers to start a new initiative with a poor leader.

    As you learn how to lead a group of volunteers and possibly receive additional training from volunteer activities, you can apply those skills to your career to help grow your career.

    Kenneth Mika, PE M.ASCE
    Green Bay, WI

  • 4.  RE: Community Service

    Posted 09-20-2019 06:30 PM

    Being just an engineer was all I wanted to be until I discovered volunteering in my community. Being part of a planning advisory board has opened a lot of doors. It helped me with speaking skills, writing skills, learned policy and the process for projects to become reality, and took the progress we made in the area of sustainability to many conferences. Receiving awards and recognitions over the years from outside organizations for volunteer work is just the icing on the cake.


    These efforts also made me become a better leader and able to train others, skills that I apply in my current paid job. Giving back definitely pays off.


    Rene Vidales Ing., P.E., M.ASCE
    Program Coordinator
    San Diego CA

  • 5.  RE: Community Service

    Posted 09-23-2019 09:31 AM
    I believe this should be one of the most important things we do in our professional career. Giving back all the knowledge in one way or another has been one of my biggest priorities in my short professional career. I have been involved with Engineers Without Borders for over five years now and have work on projects in Bolivia, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Colorado. They have all been challenging but talking to the community and getting to know them has been the most wonderful experience I have had.

    Other great ways to volunteer is by being involved in the local ASCE chapter and be part of all the great work ASCE does at the local level.

    Luis Duque EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Broomfield CO

  • 6.  RE: Community Service

    Posted 10-27-2020 05:08 PM
    ​Community service and humanitarian projects has been a defining factor in shaping my career, it has become a foundation of how I solve problems as an engineer. I truly believe that I am a better engineer because of the experience I gained working as an engineer in the humanitarian field. I worked as a Hospital Logistics and Water & Sanitation Engineer, for a number of humanitarian organizations and had the privilege of being able to work on projects in the field from Africa to Asia. I'm the guest speaker for the ASCE Seattle Section's November 2020 Meeting, (via Zoom), to talk about my experience.

    Wayne Chang, MRB
    Civil Engineer
    Civil Site Construction
    Humanitarian/Hospital Logistics
    Water & Sanitation Engineering

  • 7.  RE: Community Service

    Posted 11-30-2020 10:44 AM
    I have thoroughly enjoyed becoming part of the Little Free Pantry movement.  From "the mini pantry movement is a grassroots, crowdsourced solution to immediate and local need".  I love the concept, because it helps those who need assistance outside "normal business hours", is totally anonymous, and allows teens and kids to help themselves as needed.  As engineers we have a skill to take things from 2-dimensional to 3-dimensional, and that is one way to help this movement.  Whether it is designing the pantry or building it yourself, it's a skill many of us have.  Additionally, as civil engineers, simply helping other volunteers go through the siting and permitting process can be a huge help.  Here is the first one I built and I'm excited to start another one soon.

    Melanie A. Carlson, PE, LEED AP

    City Engineer – City of Fairfield

    Melanie Carlson A.M.ASCE
    City of Fairfield
    Fairfield IA

  • 8.  RE: Community Service

    Posted 01-10-2021 07:52 PM
    I've found that giving back can take many forms, and if you don't enjoy one method of doing it, there is probably another that won't feel so much like "work".

    Working in the water resources field in Philadelphia has introduced me to different trash clean up events hosted by such entitles as the Philadelphia Water Department and United by Blue. There is also a sub on reddit called Trash Love which encourages people to clean up their neighborhoods and share their results.

    For me, attending trash clean up events has been rewarding in a few ways. It allows me to get outside and move around, make a direct impact in reducing pollution which impacts water quality (among other things) in my community, and helps me meet other people interested in promoting a cleaner outdoors.

    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer

  • 9.  RE: Community Service

    Posted 07-05-2021 10:30 AM
    Even before I learned the cynical truth of Hands Across America, I have always been cautious about giving money directly. I find other ways to give back, so that it feels like a responsibility and not an expectation.

    In high school, I have provided volunteer service hours to various organizations that provide needed food to families in Columbus, along with tutoring to middle school students in Math classes. During my time at Ohio State, I have taken on service hours as commitment to organizations like my scholar's and Minority in Engineering programs. For the former, I have taken part in creating a holiday meal and cleaning up the Olentangy River from all sorts of debris; for the latter, I have chaired the marketing committee for an extensibly planned donation of money and toys for a December holiday.

    Although the names and times available for committing to these organizations were often changing, the fact that I gave back lived on in how I schedule giving back to communities. Sometimes it can be a weekly responsibility too, like helping Wikipedia fill out all the details for its work-in-progress articles.

    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Bexley OH

  • 10.  RE: Community Service

    Posted 07-08-2021 02:39 PM

    Giving back has been a non-negotiable task where I grew up because my neighborhood was community first. All of the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., took part in teaching the kids of the neighborhood life long lessons, feeding us, and protecting us. As a child I would be in the community cutting people's grass, taking out the trash, or other things.  So it's been a staple in every single thing that I do, but today giving back has also included using my money as a giving tool.

    It's really hard for me to define how impactful it has been for me without feeling like I'm bragging. However, I think I've been able to receive some amazing awards and recognitions. I have a long list of community service that I can talk about in interviews. I have an extremely unique skill set that has proven to me to be a benefit beyond my career. More important than those, I think because of giving back I have earned many people's trust and respect, and people seem to value me and the things I'm passionate about. Because of that, I feel like will listen to me.

    But the most important thing I think I've received from giving back is humility.

    Jay Garth P.E.
    Structural Engineer I
    Progressive AE

    EWB: An Engineering Culture Shift
    Grand Rapids, MI

  • 11.  RE: Community Service

    Posted 07-12-2021 09:41 AM
    I'd like to point out the tangential problem that America now depends on a huge nonprofit industry to provide for part of the safety net that other governments provide. This is exacerbated by the numerous tax exemptions available to such donors and organizations. The net result is that nonprofits have a thriving interest to keep themselves in business. Donors use them to protect their own interests--witness Warren Buffett opposing taxes on people like himself while claiming to support higher taxes for billionaires. I used to admire philanthropists. Now I see they're no more altruistic than the rest of us.

    Tsee Lee S.M.ASCE
    New York NY