“My concept and my reason for doing what I do and teaching what I teach is because I believe that environmental engineers have a social responsibility to use the knowledge we have to make the world a better place and to save lives,” said Lt. Col. Tim Moore II, Associate Professor at Virginia Military Institute (VMI). He used that approach to start the program Keydets without Borders, a group that focuses on sustainable design and water sanitation projects. He formed the group with just 11 members when he joined VMI’s faculty in 2010. Today, the group has over 150 students under Moore’s leadership.
The idea for Keydets without Borders came from Moore’s work with Partners in Health while he was a doctoral student at Virginia Tech (Ph.D. ’08). His experience with global water sanitation inspired him to develop a study abroad course that brings 28 VMI students to Bolivia each year to construct a design they plan in a Global Water and Sanitation Design course.
“It is very hands-on. Experiential learning is important for engineering students, but not only that, they are saving lives while they learn,” he noted.
In fact, their work has helped improved living conditions in Uganda, Haiti and Bolivia. Research has provided impressive statistics regarding improved sanitation, including, a 45% reduction in infant mortality and a 48% increase in life expectancy for many community members in developing countries. “In the five years of this program, we have saved more than 4,000 lives,” Moore said.
His hands-on teaching style and commitment to service were driving forces behind his recognition as one of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV)’s Outstanding Faculty Awards. This prestigious recognition was only given to 13 recipients in 2015 and is the Commonwealth’s highest honor for faculty at Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities. It recognizes superior accomplishments in teaching, research and public service. Moore and the other recipients will be honored on Feb. 19 at a ceremony in Richmond Virginia. Each will receive $5,000 from the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources.
Moore’s goal is to share with students about the social responsibility of engineers. “My nomination for this award came from my love for combining the concept of global health with my knowledge in water sanitation. My teaching and research have evolved around the concept of engineering and service. As engineers, we need to be able to serve the great community and make the world a better place. We need to become a big part of humanity and understand that what we know can help end the preventable illnesses that are plaguing developing countries,” he said.
While the award itself is an honor, Moore summarized, “I’m happy to be nominated and recognized, but more importantly for me, is the opportunity to promote awareness of what I’m doing and to promote the concept of engineering and service. To me, that is more important than the award. I want to encourage people to use what they know to provide others with better lives.”