Orange County Branch Newsletter

February 2014

Engineers Without Borders

EWB-USA OC and ASCE Work Together For the Betterment of Society


By: Karen Roemer

ASCE and Engineers Without Borders-USA (EWB-USA OC) share mutual objectives of bringing together local engineers to accomplish large scale goals for the betterment of society. In 2013, ASCE generously donated $2,500 to sponsor Michelle Biery, a member of EWB-USA OC, to travel to Kenya in August 2013 and work on an on-going water quality and supply project in Sukutan. As an undergraduate at UC Davis, Biery participated in both EWB-USA and ASCE and continued her involvement post graduation in Orange County. Biery’s commitment to both organizations along with her abilities as an engineer made her an ideal candidate for the sponsorship.

Shown: EWB OC teammates, Tim Muli, Sean Callan and Michelle Biery with the homeowners and community members who helped assemble the system.

While in Kenya, Biery and the EWB-USA team designed and constructed two roof rainwater collection systems that included a first flush system and a bio-sand filter made from local materials purchased in Kenya. The trip to Kenya meant more to Biery than simply project execution. After years of dedication to engineering and volunteering, this trip allowed Biery to truly witness tangible results of her hard work, “I chose the field of engineering because I wanted to help build a better, safer community.  This trip to Kenya gave me the opportunity to provide a house-based water supply of clean drinking water to a community greatly in need.”

Shown: Full Roof Rainwater Collection system with below ground storage tank and red hand pump for accessing the clean water.

The voyage to Africa marked Biery’s first trip outside of North America and her second time leaving the United States. She was pleasantly surprised by the Sukutan community’s overall happiness despite some of the challenges they faced with basic infrastructure. In the end Biery and her team provided access to clean drinking water for two families with strong potential for expansion. Thanks to ASCE’s generous donation, Biery made a positive impact on a community in need and strengthened the bond between two organizations that will continue to improve communities around the world.

Shown: Roof catchment surface and lumber supported gutters. At the gutter downspout is the first flush system and the biosand filter. The tank feeds to the below ground water storage tank.  

Photos courtesy of Michelle Biery

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