Volunteer Impact

Eset Alemu

  • Eset Alemu

This article was originally written and published by VEGA Member EWB-USA.


Eset Alemu, a resident of Seattle Washington, was inspired to become a civil engineer after witnessing the important role they played in advancing the transportation, energy and infrastructure in her home country of Ethiopia.

“In Ethiopia I got to see how people were heavily impacted by infrastructure projects that were being implemented by the government, the community, or the NGOs [nongovernmental organizations],” recalls Alemu. “That had a huge effect on me and helped shaped my thoughts on what I wanted to do when I graduated from school.”

At Addis Ababa University she received a bachelors degree in Civil Engineering. She later went on to study at the University of Washington where she received her masters degree and became involved with VEGA Member Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA). During her five years as her local chapter’s Nicaragua program lead, Alemu volunteered her time leading a team of engineers in the design of a wastewater treatment system for a coffee processing plant in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. She later returned to the community to address a separate water contamination issue that was causing health, economic and social problems. Her team decided to install a gravity water supply system that is now providing clean drinking water for the town.

In Seattle, Alemu is actively involved as a mentor and volunteer in her community. As a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, she gives her time to several of their engineering and science education mentoring outreach events for high school and college students. For the past nine years with the EWB-USA Puget Sound Professionals Chapter, Alemu has mentored students at Seattle University and also coordinated a project between its EWB-USA Student Chapter and Addis Ababa University faculty in Ethiopia to design an orphanage near Addis Ababa.

Alemu currently works as a senior project engineer for the city of Seattle and is leading the implementation of the Ship Canal Water Quality Project.