Kleingers Trains Miami Students to Build Water Systems in S. America





For more than 13 years, Engineers Without Borders has been building engineering projects that empower communities to meet their basic needs.

With 300 chapters across the United States, more than 15,900 volunteers work together to provide engineering services and have impacted more than 2.5 million lives.

Mike Brunner, Water Resources Group Leader at The Kleingers Group, is currently acting as a mentor for the group, helping to train Miami University students who plan to travel to Ecuador, South America or Rwanda, Africa. Under the guidance of a mentor, the students will provide engineering services to build water systems that ensure the communities have access to water.

In late September, Brunner helped the students learn a variety of hands-on skills and the practice of engineering and surveying theory, including how to run an elevation level circuit, mix and place concrete, construct water piping systems, and test concrete beams.

Particularly popular was the process of breaking beams, which was done by having increasing numbers of students stand on the beams, which were positioned 3 inches off the ground until they broke. This was preceded by reviewing the design calculations and making predictions of how many students it would take to break them and how much they would deflect before breaking.

At an upcoming meeting this weekend, Brunner will help teach the student volunteers about building masonry walls.

Each training session prepares students for civil engineering, surveying, and other experience they may need on their upcoming trip.

“I had been looking for an organization like this, with an opportunity to give back and work with students for a long time,” Brunner said. “This really is a wonderful organization.”

Engineers Without Borders is organized by local chapters that partner directly with communities, mostly international, on projects to meet the community’s self-identified needs. The vast network of dedicated volunteers ranges from first-year engineering students and engineering professionals to public health professionals.

The over-arching philosophy of EWB-USA is to partner with communities in a sustainable way, and through the use of appropriate technology, so that they have ownership in the project(s) and will be able to maintain the project facilities long-term.

Along with two or three other local professional engineers, Brunner meets weekly with the student volunteers to provide advice and direction on the engineering/technical aspects of the project, as well as to guide them through the development of the project documents and EWB-USA paperwork.

Two different teams of Miami students from the chapter, along with a mentor, traveled to Ecuador and Rwanda last year to gather survey data that is being used to design the projects and to meet the local community leaders and citizens. Trips for the construction phase are being planned for this year.