Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Giving Back-A Volunteer Opportunity for Engineers

Engineers are wonderful creatures. They are blessed with incredible skills but do most of their work in the background. Lawyers run for office and dominate the political landscape. Television shows bring us into the world of hospitals and doctors. We don't see many prime time shows on the lives of engineers. I don't hear many engineers interviewed on the radio.

But certainly we matter. Watch Apollo 13 and quickly realize the importance of engineers. We just don't crave the limelight. I equate us to offensive linemen who plow the way for running backs and quarterbacks to make big plays.

Well, I have a wonderful opportunity for engineers to step out and support an incredibly worthy cause. First, a description of the cause.

Water Missions International (WMI) is a non-profit ministry, located in Charleston, SC, that implements a variety of safe water solutions in disaster response and community development projects. The ministry was started by engineers, men and women using their God given technical skills to support others. I could write at length about them but I'll get to my main point.

When you visit WMI, you quickly realize that at the wonderful core lies a manufacturing plant. They receive raw material and run the material through a series of assembly steps to create the final product, a Living Water (TM) Treatment System. (LWTS) Along the way, they have the same issues as you do at work. Quality must improve. Processes must become lean. They are well aware of the need for continuous improvement but there is one small detail I must mention-they totally rely on volunteers to do the assembly work.

With the scope of the ministry growing and the need for the product expanding, the organization realizes it now needs a different type of volunteer. They need "engineer types" to come observe their processes and recommend ideas for improvement.

As a first step, they are currently developing work standards. (this is being managed by a volunteer group of 24 Industrial Engineers from Robert Bosch Corporation) Once the standards are in place and the process released, there must be continuous improvement in quality, cost, and delivery.

So, we are asking for engineers to come and visit. Take a plant tour, pray about what you observe and if you feel led, volunteer your engineering skill and talent to help Water Missions International continuously improve the wonderful output it provides to the world.

To learn more about WMI, please visit:

Or, email me at

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