World Travels Put Wisconsin Engineer-in-Training on Path to Helping People

February 25, 2016
Vande Boom
Vande Boom

Jill Vande Boom is Wisconsin through and through. She grew up in Port Washington and studies civil engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

But it’s her trips overseas as a student that have defined her love for engineering. That love combined with an impressive work ethic have helped make her one of ASCE’s 2016 New Faces of Civil Engineering – College.

“Engineering uses a variety of information from math and science,” Vande Boom, S.M.ASCE, said. “And it’s a major you can apply anywhere because engineering is global.”

Vande Boom, though just 21, already knows a lot about global engineering.

Two years ago, she traveled with an Engineers Without Borders USA group for a nine-day surveying trip in Guatemala. The team went through residents’ fields and sometimes even their homes to do piping.

“It was very eye-opening,” Vande Boom said. “It’s very beautiful there, but they don’t have any sort of garbage trucks so you would see garbage everywhere.

“We complain about so much, but it’s nothing compared to what other people deal with.”

Vande Boom went to Nashik, India, this past fall for the Community Plumbing Challenge. She was a member of Team USA for what started as a competition with other student teams from Australia, the Basque region of Spain, and India. The teams instead decided to work together, in spite of the language barriers, to remodel two toilet facilities and a washroom in the host school.

“We had to work together as one team and not four teams,” Vande Boom said. “It was a great experience. We are now known as Team School 125.”

Vande Boom is scheduled to complete her program at MSOE – specifically created by herself to fit her own interests and goals – with bachelor’s and master’s degrees by 2018.

“I can’t wait to graduate and use what I’ve learned,” Vande Boom said.

“When you go on a trip, you see how everyone is. You go and see India – the children were smiling every day. Some had shoes, some had raggy clothes, but they smiled every day whenever they saw any of us come in. I think there are things that everyone should have, no matter where they are.

“So I’m hoping to continue my travels and work with different organizations to continue to help.”

ASCE’s New Faces of Civil Engineering recognition programs highlight the next generation of civil engineering leaders. By showcasing young, diverse, talented engineers the program shows that engineering is an exciting profession open to everyone. Ten honorees are selected by ASCE in each of two divisions: collegiate and professional.

Honorees receive recognition during National Engineers Week, which runs through Feb. 27, and at ASCE’s annual Outstanding Projects And Leaders (OPAL) Gala, March 17, in Arlington, VA.

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