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Nature Preserve project earns student award

Seeing a classmate slip and fall while walking down a hill at the Nature Preserve gave Kelsey Pieper an idea: She and the University chapter of Engineers Without Borders would build a stair system for students and the community.

“It just clicked that this would be a great thing to do and a great project to kick things off (for the chapter),” said the 21-year-old mechanical engineering major from Rensselaer.
A year after the project completion, Pieper has been selected as the Region II winner of the Student Initiative Award by the Association of Council Members and College Trustees of SUNY.

Pieper learned last week that she had won the award. The senior is especially pleased that the honor will benefit Engineers Without Borders, which partners with communities around the world by providing engineering-oriented solutions to problems.

“It’s really nice that our chapter can be recognized and that we can do projects that will help the community,” said Pieper, who is president of the University chapter. “It’s really going to help our society and build our reputation.”

The group has participated in a rainwater collection and purification project in Peru and is now working with the Boys and Girls Club of Western Broome to construct a new storage facility. Pieper will travel to Cambodia over winter break to determine what the group can do to help the country.

Pieper, who is a captain of the women’s lacrosse team and hopes to coach in Great Britain next year before heading to graduate school, stressed the teamwork involved in the Nature Preserve project. Physical Facilities, the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, Nature Preserve Steward Dylan Horvath and Sodexo all provided materials and support. More than 100 student volunteers took part in the day-long project, leading to additional work in the Nature Preserve.

Horvath was impressed with Pieper’s leadership.

“I found her to be very organized and inspiring,” he said. “She organized everything and attracted a lot of people to help. She was always smiling and enthusiastic. That rubbed off on everyone else.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08