Five Questions for an Engineer – Avery Bang

Avery Bang is the Executive Director of Bridges to Prosperity, a nonprofit geared to helping isolated communities by connecting them with bridges!

Ms. Bang joined Bridges to Prosperity, first as the Director of Operations, after completing a graduate degree in Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Her graduate research was conducted with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Founder Bernard Amadei, which considered appropriate geotechnical survey and design for rural low-tech applications.

As a Professional Research Assistant in the Mortenson-Center in Engineering for Developing Communities (MC-EDC), Avery led research teams in developing appropriate alternative energy solutions for developing communities, and mentored student-teams in various international projects. Prior to her time in Colorado, Avery worked as a structural engineer at Shoemaker & Haaland Engineers. As an undergraduate at The University of Iowa, she served as the President of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) while founding Iowa’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

So go to B2P and help out! Thanks Avery!

1) What got you interested in a career in engineering?

My father is a structural engineer, and as a child, visiting bridges and Frank Lloyd Wright houses on vacations was the norm. I guess I fit the stereotype, in that regard.

2) Could you give an overview of your role with “Bridges to Prosperity”.

My first project with Bridges to Prosperity was in 2006, as a student at The University of Iowa. We designed and built a 30-meter cable-suspended bridge near Santo-Tomas, Peru as our senior design capstone project.

My passion was ignited, and I joined B2P’s Board of Directors as the Director of the newly-formed (our project being the first) University Program. Following graduate school in Geotechnical Engineering at The University of Colorado at Boulder, where I worked with Engineers Without Borders Founder Bernard Amadei, I joined B2P as the first States-based full-time employee, as Director of Operations.

Nearly four years later, I am now the Executive Director, working with a small team of engineers and staff here in Colorado, supporting Program Staff in seven countries on four continents. It’s all quite exciting.

3) How can engineers help non-profit organizations?

Each non-profit is certainly unique, but speaking on behalf of B2P, we rely on the technical expertise and support of engineers. From design detailing, to drafting, field-based construction support to Corporate Social Responsibility financial support, engineers and their companies are at the core of our success.

We strive to minimize overhead expenses, by focusing staff efforts on defining global footbridge needs, and supporting volunteer engineers who do the actual design and training program development.

4) Any advice for new engineers?

I had a professor who claimed that we were to be the 1% of the population that makes life possible for the other 99%, which has always stuck with me. Careers that truly help people are not limited to medical or teaching fields as many incorrectly assume. So think big–find your passion within the field and think outside the box, both in terms of what the impact of your existing work is going to be on society, but also how you can select your career path to be both interesting and rewarding.

5) What do you do for fun?

Well, traveling is certainly a favorite of mine, but when I’m in the States, I enjoy rock climbing, reading, biking and jogging with my pup Levi. I’ve been known to love a bit of good live music as well.

One thought on “Five Questions for an Engineer – Avery Bang

  1. David Brett

    TBG & Avery,
    No one else has commented yet so here goes. I’m sure that many other readers enjoyed your “5 questions for an engineer” interview as I did. Thanks for sharing your experiences and viewpoint, Avery. Great photos too – the people concerned (with all those big smiles) will remember “Bridges to Prosperity” & your personal efforts for a long time to come. Nice to see an optimistic young engineer combining a job with doing something positive that she believes in. I imagine you are learning so much about practical engineering, & how to get things done quickly, safely & efficiently with limited resources. You have to “think big” & “think small” all at the same time? Best wishes for the future.

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