Bernard Amadei had a decision to make in 2002 after visiting a Costa Rica hydroelectric project on which he was asked to consult. The University of Colorado-Boulder civil engineering professor and geotechnical expert could have accepted the invitation and nicely supplemented his academic salary. But Amadei could not ignore the fact that the huge project would displace many locals from their homes and violate a basic engineering dictum, “Do no harm.”
Choosing to forego that opportunity may have cost the educator short-term, but it propelled his quest for a new direction in engineering that today is enriching the daily lives of the world’s poorest communities and the work lives of thousands of industry practitioners, educators and students who share his vision—and also are taking it in new directions. Amadei’s experience in Costa Rica—and a previous one in Belize, helping his immigrant home landscaper bring water supply to his native village—helped launch an engineering movement that some say is a phenomenon that will mold the next generation of industry leaders.