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Excerpt from T&DI Connection Newsletter
Written by: Melissa Willis, T&DI Senior Marketing Coordinator

As only the second undergraduate I’ve interviewed since the inception of this segment, Andrew Kline is one of the youngest of our younger members; but he’s already highly involved in ASCE and is already helping to change the world.

Born in a small farming town just outside of Reading, Pennsylvania, Andrew attended the only public school in the state that accepts tuition for engineering classes. He began taking them in 9th grade and already had 36 college credits when he graduated, though Villanova only accepted six of them. It may sound like a waste, but it’s a small price to pay to find your purpose.

“One of those classes that didn’t count was kind of an introduction to all things engineering and one of the lessons was on the different engineering disciplines. I remember sitting there and I can still picture exactly where I was in the classroom and the people sitting next to me. Then, civil engineering came on the screen, and I immediately turned to my friend, sitting next to me, and I said that’s what I’m going to do with my life.”

By the time this is published, Andrew will officially be a Villanova graduate and will have finished his senior capstone project, which we mentioned in last month’s newsletter, but I was dying to hear more details about this amazing experience.

In case you missed it, Andrew, eight classmates representing all civil engineering disciplines, and three professors traveled to a remote village in Uganda to supply villagers with running water, a functioning school, and working lavatories. It all started several years ago with a Texas-based Villanova alum/chemical engineer who founded a non-profit to provide clean water access to rural communities around the world. This is the third year it’s been part of the Villanova capstone project and the first year a group of seniors has been able to travel to the village they’re helping, which changes every year.

During their four-day trip, they visited their village to do some research and get to know the history and the people, but they also traveled to the site of last year’s capstone project and were there during a very special occasion.

“We were actually there for the day where they turned the water on for the first time. We were told that it was about 75% complete, so it was a complete surprise when we arrived on the site and they said, ‘hey, go turn the water on.’ My professors who advised the group last year were the ones who actually turned the tap on for the first time, which was a really cool – kind of full circle. They threw a huge celebration with everyone. They closed the school for the day and we had a meal with the community, and we each got to plant a tree with a member of the community, which is another program that the nonprofit does. It helps with firewood situation in the country and know where our tree is in the village that we supported, which is a cool thing.”

It’s a very cool thing!

“Two of the three professors and seven of the nine students were women. In Uganda, women don’t really have the same opportunity that men have. When [the female professors] were introduced as the leaders, to watch the women and the girls and the school kind of have that realization like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can do that, too.’ That was amazing. The impact our work is having is more than technical.”

Now that he’s a college graduate, Andrew has lots of other cool things planned, too. He’s taking some time off to enjoy his last real summer of freedom and is going to spend a lot of time at the pool. He’s also on a task committee that’s helping to plan the 2027 ASCE mega conference and is a Region 2 Board of Governors Student Representative. As an active member of our younger member committee, he has a role in planning younger member activities at ICTD and in general. He already has a job with a local traffic and planning company, and he’s attending his final student conference in Utah in June.

“My camera roll has like literally 12 photos on it on my phone. I just delete everything, but there’s been a bunch of people that have sent me pictures over the last four years and it’s kind of made me sad that that things are ending and you know, kind of also at the same time they’re recognizing the network I’ve built here and all the friends I have from along the way, I think is something that’s been really cool to kind of see now on the opposite end of the four years and you come in with so much uncertainty…”

Four years later, the student who started college during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic is self-assured, energized, and has helped a developing community over 7,000 miles away have a better quality of life.

That’s certainly worth celebrating.

We can’t wait to see how Andrew’s future unfolds.

Thank you for letting us interview you, Andrew! It was such a joy getting to know you!

Do you share a common interest, know of an opportunity that Andrew might be interested in, or have a question about one of his projects? Connect with him on LinkedIn.

View full article here.