his month we sat with Julie Pietrzak, PE, Senior Project Manager with Enovate. Julie is an active member of Engineer’s Without Borders (EWB-USA), “Community Engineering Corps” (CEC) program which works formally within the USA with under-served communities in project-based partnerships.
With so many volunteer opportunities available, why EWB-USA?
I’ve always loved to travel, but then I found out about EWB’s fledgling Community Engineering Corps program founded in 2014 which provides pro-bono engineering services to local neighborhoods and found it to be a great fit for me. I get to travel around the 5 boroughs and work through all phases of a construction project from community engagement through closeout.
What kinds of projects are you working on?
The EWB-NY CEC team has established a relationship with the Jackson Forest Community Garden in Morrisania, a neighborhood in the Bronx with one of the highest poverty rates in NYC. This community garden serves as a place for neighbors to grow fresh produce, host educational workshops, and organize neighborhood gatherings. The main scope of work for this partnership is a lighted ADA-compliant pathway that will make the garden accessible to elderly and disabled visitors and improve the event space for social and educational gatherings with a goal to complete in the summer of 2019.
What has your experience been thus far?
It has been extremely rewarding and fun! Not only have I met many impressive young engineers, but the communities have been a pleasure to engage with. I’ve learned a lot about the history of the area we’re working in by chatting with neighbors, seeing their historic photos and listening to their personal stories.
What is your roll in the Jackson Forest project?
I am the Responsible Engineer in Charge (REIC) for the project and hold the overall responsibility for the technical accuracy of the project, including providing reviews and signing off on the completion of the project.
This sounds very rewarding – can non-engineers get involved as well?
Absolutely. To help directly with the funding for the Jackson Forest Community Garden you can donate here. EWB-USA also offers a variety of options for skilled professionals, student volunteers and corporate teams, both locally and internationally. These vary in discipline from farming to legal reviews. For more information, or to find your local EWB chapter, just go to www.ewb-usa.org.