Our developing professionals partner with Engineers Without Borders to drive impact
November 23, 2021
November 23, 2021
Learn how Stantec’s developing professionals are getting involved with their communities and growing through work with Engineers Without Borders
At the heart of Stantec, we design with community in mind; and our partnership with Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) exemplifies that promise. Engineers Without Borders is an internationally renowned, non-profit organization that channels the full potential, creativity, and innovation of engineers around the world to find sustainable solutions to empower communities facing poverty and inequity. With hundreds of chapters around the world, EWB steps in when communities cannot fund the costs of consultant-led solutions or even develop a solution for their community need. Stantec team members from across the globe are already involved in EWB initiatives, so we sat down with Mayra Giraldo, a process engineer in training with our Atlanta, GA office, and Tessa Vaendel, a waste & resources consultant residing in the Netherlands, to discuss their projects and why they volunteer.
“I love what I do, but I’ve always wanted to give more to the community,” says Mayra, a Stantec employee of four years.
Through her involvement with EWB-USA, Mayra is helping a community in Northern California develop their water infrastructure to provide residents with clean drinking water that is free from arsenic. Currently in the feasibility stage, the project feels more rewarding with each day. “We are doing what we are doing to improve people’s lives,” Mayra says.
The impact of watching our Stantec team join forces to offer solutions to communities in different countries and time zones speaks volumes to our corporate values and their alignment with EWB. “I find it amazing to watch global team members come together and reach all communities, no matter location or size,” Mayra reflects.
Mayra’s involvement with EWB—it’s led to increased confidence in vendor management, an expansive network of colleagues, enhanced leadership skills, and exposure to different fields of engineering. “When you commit to something, you better be able to deliver. Don’t overstretch,” she cautions.
Beyond EWB-USA, Mayra, an office social committee member, was also a founding member of her local DPG chapter established in late 2019. Though COVID-19 threw a wrench into their plans, Mayra’s spirits are still high, “We had limited opportunity to offer in-person events, but we are hopeful to reignite the chapter with a kick-off event soon.”
Mayra is hoping to grow into being a technical expert within the Industrial Water group and, one day, be a part of EWB projects in Africa or South America building wells and providing access to clean drinking water, furthering her personal impact on our global communities.
In the two years Tessa Vaendel has been with Stantec, she’s already made a great impact in the engineering community. Tessa focuses on project work around circular economy and supports clients with achieving circularity by processing their waste and resources in a sustainable way. In fact, in addition to her work with Stantec, Tessa is the circular portfolio manager for EWB in her region, currently overseeing different projects in circular textiles, turning food waste into compost, plastic recycling, process optimization and other circular initiatives. “I get a lot of energy from my involvement in the circular projects and inspiration from the likeminded individuals seeking sustainable solutions,” she says. Now almost into her fifth year with EWB-Netherlands (NL), Tessa is invigorated by the work achieved when we take the time to learn from one another. “What might work in Africa will work differently in a European context, but you can always learn from one another to find the right solution and do something good,” she explains.
Tessa recalls a virtual online challenge conducted by EWB-NL in 2019 where several participants from around the world— like Guatemala, Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands—came together to support EcoBrixs with a closed-loop plastic recycling system in Uganda. What resulted was beyond what many, including Tessa, could have imagined. “Individuals from Nigeria had joined our challenge to contribute and see what it was all about, and now we are working with them on a project through EWB-NL supporting them on their circular initiatives in their own community.”
Tessa contributes the growth in her project management skills and vast network of likeminded professionals from across the globe to her involvement with EWB-NL, this experience is very useful to apply in the projects at Stantec. In fact, it was through her connections at EWB-NL that Tessa came to find her role at Stantec.
Tessa is looking forward to growing with Stantec and supporting her clients and communities across the world on their circular initiatives as they move towards a sustainable global future.
Building partnerships, developing new skills, and affecting change—these are only some of the many advantages of pairing industry experience with a role within Stantec. When given the opportunity to collaborate, new and innovative approaches come together allowing us to achieve solutions not originally thought possible. These ideas help communities to thrive, and engineers around the world, to lead with integrity and drive change.
Both organizations, Stantec and EWB, are raising the bar for the engineering profession to contribute to society because, at the end of the day, we are better together.
Learn more about the Stantec Developing Professionals Group, and see other ways they are supporting professional development for their members.