posted March 28, 2011

Jeff Brown Receives National Engineers Without Borders Faculty Award

Dr. Jeff Brown, assistant professor of engineering at Hope College, has been named the 2011 recipient of the "Peter J. Bosscher Faculty Advisor Award for Outstanding Leadership" by Engineers Without Borders-USA (EWB-USA).

The award was presented on Saturday, March 26, during an awards gala and reception held in conjunction with the Eighth Annual EWB-USA International Conference, which took place in Louisville, Ky.

The award recognizes faculty advisors within EWB-USA who provide outstanding leadership and mentorship to their student chapter.  It is named for the late Peter J. Bosscher, who was an EWB-USA faculty advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in addition to being actively involved with the national organization.

Brown has been a co-advisor of the Hope chapter of EWB-USA since joining the faculty in 2005.  He has played a leadership role in guiding the chapter's on-going interdisciplinary service and research project focused on improving water quality and hygiene education in the village of Nkuv in Cameroon.  The project has been ongoing since the 2005-06 school year.

EWB-USA is a national non-profit humanitarian organization established to partner with developing communities worldwide in order to improve their quality of life. The partnership involves implementing environmentally and economically sustainable engineering projects, while involving and training internationally responsible engineering professionals.

The organization, which grew out of a project by the University of Colorado-Boulder in Belize in 2000, has more than 250 chapters, including 180 chapters on colleges and university campuses in the United States, and more than 12,000 members.  EWB-USA has more than 350 projects in more than 45 developing countries around the world, including water, renewable energy and sanitation.  The projects are completed in partnership with local communities and non-governmental organizations.

The Hope chapter of EWB-USA, which has approximately 25 members, began in the spring of 2005.  It began its work in Nkuv with an initial planning visit in March 2006 and three-week project-implementation trip in May of that year.  Overall, the group has traveled to NKUV seven times in the past five years.

The Hope project began with an emphasis on providing Nkuv with purified water through the implementation of biosand filters.  During the first year, the effort expanded to include the college's department of nursing, which surveyed the villagers' health and began working with them to improve hygiene, sanitation and nutrition.  The department of education subsequently became involved in helping to develop instructional materials related to the health and hygiene lessons, and the department of communication developed a documentary film about the project.  Subsequent engineering work has included creating a water distribution system to bring water closer to the village from an area stream.

In addition to working with the Hope EWB team on campus as it has conducted related research and preparation, Brown has accompanied the group to Nkuv five times, with an additional trip planned for later this year.

In 2008, the Hope project was named one of only four finalists statewide for Michigan's Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Campus-Community Partnership Award.  In recognition of his service, in January 2009 Brown received the college's "Ruth and John Reed Faculty Achievement Award," presented by the provost's office in recognition of members of the faculty who are superior teachers and have also contributed significantly in some other area of professional life.

Brown's other research interests focus on the performance and durability of reinforced concrete structures, work in which he involves engineering students as members of his research team.  He teaches courses including Introduction to Solid Mechanics, Engineering Materials, Structural Analysis, Geotechnical Engineering, Reinforced Concrete and Steel Structure.

He graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.S. degree in 1996, and completed his M.S. at the university in 1998.  He completed his doctorate at the University of Florida in 2005.