Featured Partner: Pitt Engineers without Borders

For this month’s Featured Partner, we are highlighting a new and exciting partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s Engineers Without Borders chapter. We could not be more excited to work with them as they contribute their engineering skills toward our fight to transform vacant and under-loved land throughout Allegheny County.

For our first project together, we challenged them to design and build a water collection cistern as part of our Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GTECH GSI) project in Observatory Hill. Tucked into a corner of Riverview United Presbyterian Church, the 500-gallon cistern now collects water from a 950 sqft section of the church’s roof, solving a basement leakage problem and diverting water from our overworked sewer system.

Working with GTECH has been a great way to use our engineering skills on projects in the Pittsburgh community, which is a rare and valuable opportunity for us, as students. They are able to provide us with the resources we need, such as materials and tools, that would be difficult for us to obtain for projects ourselves, and it is wonderful for us to be able to actually implement the designs we work on with their help. Katrina Weinmann, Local Projects Lead


Describe your organization.

Pitt Engineers without Borders is a student chapter of the national organization of Engineers without Borders – USA. We are a student organization that works both internationally and in the local Pittsburgh community, with the goal of serving the communities we work in. With all of our projects, we focus on community partnership and engagement. The local projects section of the club works on engineering related projects and volunteer events in the local community. We partner with Pittsburgh non-profit organizations on various projects where we can use our engineering skills to make a positive impact on the community.

Describe the project you worked on with GTECH.

We worked with GTECH on a project designing the installation for, and installing, a stormwater cistern at a local church. Our team worked on the design of the piping from the roof into the stormwater cistern, incorporating a first flush system to prevent roof debris from entering the cistern and a winterizing tee to prevent water from gathering in the cistern during the winter. We designed the system based on the requirements given to us by GTECH, and made modifications based on feedback from their team. We installed the system over two work days, with GTECH providing assistance in the installation as well as all of the necessary materials and tools. We became involved in the project after contacting GTECH to see if we could aid with any of their projects. They were already working with the church and asked for our assistance in designing the system.

 

What is your favorite part of this partnership?

Working with GTECH has been a great way to use our engineering skills on projects in the Pittsburgh community, which is a rare and valuable opportunity for us, as students. They are able to provide us with the resources we need, such as materials and tools, that would be difficult for us to obtain for projects ourselves, and it is wonderful for us to be able to actually implement the designs we work on with their help.

What was the most challenging part of the project?

Because we were working with both GTECH and the church on this project, we had a much stricter timeline than most of our projects. This was challenging, but it kept us focused on the project and setting weekly goals kept us on track to finish the project on time.

Our final, working product!

Thank you, Pitt Engineers without Borders! We look forward to working with you again in the future and continuing our partnership to improve communities throughout Allegheny County.

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