“When you’re working in a devel­oping country, you have to approach things com­pletely dif­fer­ently,” said 2011 civil engi­neering grad­uate Ann Polaneczky, a project engi­neer for Part­ners in Health, a nonprofit international health and social justice orga­ni­za­tion. “Your approach has to address anthro­po­log­ical and cul­tural con­cerns because if you just try to apply what works here in the United States, you’re not going to succeed.”

Polaneczky began working with Part­ners in Health as a co-​​op stu­dent tasked with designing a waste­water treat­ment plant for a hos­pital the non­profit was building in Mire­balais, Haiti. The country lacks a cen­tral­ized civil infra­struc­ture system, and the hos­pital needed help removing its sewage, which if pumped into a river could cause severe med­ical con­di­tions like cholera.

After grad­u­a­tion, Polaneczky joined Part­ners in Health in a full-​​time capacity. Now she visits Haiti for approx­i­mately one week each month, over­seeing the imple­men­ta­tion of her designs in the hos­pital, which is nearly fin­ished. “It’s amazing to be walking around in your own draw­ings,” she said.

As a North­eastern stu­dent, Polaneczky served as pres­i­dent of the university’s chapter of Engi­neers Without Bor­ders, over­seeing devel­op­ment projects in Africa and Hon­duras. In 2010, the national orga­ni­za­tion named her one of nine “Emerging Leaders,” citing her work to create infra­struc­ture that changed the lives of people in the devel­oping world. 

 

Academic Success: 

As a North­eastern stu­dent, Polaneczky served as pres­i­dent of the university’s chapter of Engi­neers Without Bor­ders, over­seeing devel­op­ment projects in Africa and Hon­duras. In 2010, the national orga­ni­za­tion named her one of nine “Emerging Leaders,” citing her work to create infra­struc­ture that changed the lives of people in the devel­oping world. 

Over two years, Polaneczky twice led her team to El Chaguite to collect data and construct a 6,500-gallon water storage tank and new transmission lines. Today, there’s a tap at each house, the church and the school. 

EWB–USA works on some 350 water, renewable energy and sanitation projects in more than 45 developing countries around the world. Northeastern’s student chapter of the organization, founded in 2005, has brought clean water to families in El Tecuán, Los Planes and El Chaguite, Honduras, and Bbanda, Uganda.

Co-op 1 and 2
Kleinfelders/ Hazen and Sawyer

Ann's first co-op was at Kleinfelders/SEA which is a employee-owned architecture, engineering and science consulting firm. Her second co-op was at Hazen and Sawyer which embraces sustainability to create the best possible social, environmental and economic outcomes. Here Ann learned how to provide safe drinking water which translated to her work in Africa, Honduras and now Haiti. Her passion for making change combined with engineering education and hands on co-op experience led her to an engineering career at Partners in Health.