What’s in My Backyard? – CECorps Connects Engineers, Communities

August 22, 2019
Rehab work on the Kenilworth Creek is part of the CECorps project in Northern California.

Take a look in your backyard (figuratively).

You might be surprised what you find (literally).

Underserved communities across the United States are in need of civil engineering solutions. That’s where the Community Engineering Corps comes in, and, with its new “What’s in My Backyard?” campaign, lays out how to help, step by step.

CECorps – an alliance between ASCE, the American Water Works Association and Engineers Without Borders USA – brings engineers, technical professionals and students together to volunteer their time and expertise to help communities that don’t have resources to access engineering services.


“What’s in My Backyard?” puts a spotlight on this work with the hope of connecting interested volunteers with potential local projects.

Six “What’s in My Backyard?” video episodes break down the entire process, from an introduction to the CE Corps to volunteering options to identifying service projects.

Rami Selim, EIT, L.S.I.T., ENV SP, A.MASCE, vice president of ASCE’s San Francisco Section Redwood Empire Branch, took a look into his figurative backyard and found a project that allowed him to leverage his civil engineering expertise to help a community recover from disaster.

“CECorps connected professionals to help their communities, so that we can share, provide and even gain civil engineering skills,” Selim said. “We have built a diverse team of professionals that brings a lot of different ideas and solutions to help our community members with the fire recovery and rebuild.”

The Atlas, Tubbs and Nuns wildfires ravaged Napa, California, in October 2017, destroying nearly 150,000 acres of land and more than 7,000 structures, while being responsible for more than 30 deaths.

The EWB Sonoma County Professional Chapter identified it as an excellent opportunity for help from CECorps. Selim joined the team and has been helping rebuild the community for more than a year.

“I’ve had a really good experience – essentially doing the kind of things I do for my company during the day,” said Selim, a design engineer for BKF Engineers in Santa Rosa, California.

CECorps has worked on replacing culverts and providing construction guidance a retaining wall to mitigate landslides, among other projects in the area. Selim has been able to apply his experience and expertise in site analysis, preparing reports and project management to the group.

“Our team was great. Everybody got it,” Selim said. “I’d recommend CECorps to anybody.”

Learn more about CECorps and its “What’s in My Backyard?” campaign.

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