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Brauner receives commendation

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 30 - May 1, 1997

J. Steven Brauner, a Ph.D. student in civil engineering, has received a special commendation from the Graduate School recognizing his service activities.

Brauner was the leading force behind the success of the Blacksburg Chapter of Water For People (WFP), a nonprofit organization that provides technical and financial support for the construction of safe drinking-water systems and the development of public-health educational programs in developing countries.

Brauner is a founding member of the Blacksburg chapter of WFP. The student chapter began its fund-raising activities in 1993, and by 1996 had enough funding to work with the village of Vilomilla in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

The College of Engineering provided travel support for four students to go to Bolivia, where they participated in the final design and initial construction of a bathhouse and worked with students from a local university to begin an operations-and-maintenance manual for the bathhouse. Brauner was project manger for construction, translating design plans from English to Spanish, directing on-site construction, and performing manual labor.

The community of 750 people that previously had only one latrine and no running water or septic system now has a facility at the local school with two showers, five toilets, one urinal, a community hand-washing sink, two clothes sinks, and a septic system.

A second trip to Bolivia is scheduled for 1998. In the meantime, WFP has grown to include students from many disciplines at the university.

Brauner's undergraduate degree is from Lehigh University in 1993. He received his master's from Virginia Tech in 1995 and expects to receive his doctorate in 1998. His goals are to first work on water-supply or public-health issues overseas and then to return to the United States to teach at a university.