By Kevin Howell

When you think of meeting community needs through engineering, you probably think of serving in developing nations. But communities in developed nations are in need of help too, and there are plenty of opportunities to put your engineering expertise to use in these nations.

Whether it’s natural disasters, environmental issues, education inequality, or poverty, developed nations face problems where engineers can lend a helping hand.

Here are some ways engineers can put their skills to use in community service projects in developed countries.


Whether a country is wealthy or poor, it still faces environmental problems. Though many developed countries have resources to improve the environment, some communities still suffer from various issues.

For example, the United States, Canada, and the European Union are among the most developed nations, but also have some of the highest pollution levels. Approximately 110 million Americans live with air pollution levels that are harmful to their health.

One way engineers are helping in this area is through air monitoring. IEEE student members at Drexel University partnered with the Clean Air Council and community lung associations and used an EPICS grant to design and deploy air-quality monitoring devices near a natural gas extraction region in Pennsylvania.

The devices collected data to determine the effects the natural gas drilling had on people’s health.


Disaster can strike anywhere, and wherever it hits, it takes a devastating toll on the people in the area.

Early this year, record flooding destroyed homes and displaced residents in Louisiana. In Italy, a 6.2-magintude earthquake killed nearly 300 people and caused over $1 billion in damage.

Developed nations are just as susceptible to natural disasters, and the devastation presents opportunities for engineers to provide community service projects to aid victims.

For example, students from the University of Maryland Baltimore County used an EPICS grant to design and implement solar- and wind-powered supplies to provide electricity for humanitarian operations in rural and disastrous areas.

If you live in a developed nation, you don’t have to travel to a foreign country for humanitarian service. There are opportunities in your country to apply your engineering skills to serve community needs.

Do you have an idea to serve your community with an engineering project? EPICS in IEEE provides grants to help you implement it. Submit a proposal today.