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Seeing a classmate slip and fall while walking down a hill in Binghamton University’s Nature Preserve gave Kelsey Pieper an idea: build some stairs!

After seeing a friend fall on a hill, Kelsey Pieper went to work. 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),” says the mechanical engineering graduate from Rensselaer, N.Y.

A year after the project completion, Pieper was selected as the Region II winner of the Student Initiative Award by the Association of Council Members and College Trustees of SUNY.

Pieper was especially pleased that the honor benefited Engineers Without Borders, which partners with communities around the world by providing engineering-oriented solutions to problems.

“It’s really nice that our chapter could be recognized and that we can do projects that will help the community,” says Pieper, who was president of the University chapter. “It really helps our society and builds our reputation.”

The group has participated in a rainwater collection and purification project in Peru and worked with the Boys and Girls of Western Broome to construct a new storage facility. Pieper also traveled to Cambodia over one winter break to determine what the group can do to help that country.

A captain of the women’s lacrosse team while a student, Pieper is currently working for Caterham School in Surrey, England as a graduate assistant women's lacrosse coach, head of basketball and math teacher. Next on her agenda? Attending graduate school at UMass-Amherst for environmental and civil engineering with plans to research water resources in environmental engineering as her ultimate goal.

She 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 Campus Services all provided materials and support. More than 100 student volunteers took part in the day-long project.

Horvath was impressed with Pieper’s leadership.

“I found her to be very inspiring,” he says. “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: 2/16/10