The Right Tool for the Job

Four local companies recently stepped up to supply some much-needed tool kits for Engineers Without Borders after the University of Minnesota student group realized its tool arsenal was no longer adequate for the growing scope of its projects.

Battery-operated equipment powers EWB-UMN project work in remote communities, as electricity is generally nonexistent. The students had been using the same tools for a very long time, some paired with mismatched batteries. The equipment truly told the tale: following a full battery charge, the circular saw, for example, lasted for less than 5 minutes. The decreasing capacity of the batteries was a serious hindrance to work progress.

What’s more, the tools were assembled for one traveling team back when EWB-UMN had only one project. Two project groups now often plan simultaneous visits on different continents. Each group often splits into two teams to work independently on project components, often in different parts of the communities they work in. In the past, this has often required quarter- to half-mile walks in mountainous terrain to fetch something as simple as a pipe wrench or reciprocating saw. The students knew that having one set of tools per team would eliminate the need for multiple subgroups to share resources and would increase their efficiency exponentially.

Students drafted a proposal that outlined the urgency of the need with the help of group mentor, benefactor, and alumus Michael Heuer, who then personally contacted people he knew in the industry.

“EWB-UMN already has the right people to do the job — dedicated engineering students, expert mentors, and community partners,” said Heuer. “What they were missing were the right tools to complete their projects efficiently and safely. I knew that industry partners with ties to the University could really make a huge difference by using their buying power to put together tool kits.”

Adolfson & Peterson Construction, Braun Intertec, JE Dunn Construction, and Loeffler Construction & Consulting each made a philanthropic commitment to partner with EWB-UMN and fund kits of essential tools. Their generosity will provide future EWB-UMN students with the resources they need to serve other communities for many years to come.

Read more about EWB here

EWB Student Leaders
EWB student leaders Colin Bain and Mitch Van Buren picked up a donated tool kit from Loefffler Construction Consulting. Also pictured, CEGE alumna Sara Hudoba and Loeffler President Doug Loeffler.
2018 CEGE Award
In October 2018, Board Chair Nirmal Jain, PE, and Immediate Past Chair Dennis Martensen, PE, were please to present on behalf of NCEES an award to the Department of Civil, Environment, and Geo-Engineering (CEGE) at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. The students and their university advisors and professional mentors won for their project, a multistage drip irrigation system.