Altrincham engineer honoured for African voluntary work

An Altrincham-based Engineer has been honoured for his dedication to voluntary work in North West England and East Africa, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) announced recently. Zak Jones, a Civil Engineer who works at top engineering company AECOM and volunteers as North West regional chair at Engineers for Overseas Development North West, was given the "Highly Commended" honour by the judges in the highly competitive Volunteer of the Year category at this year's North West Civil Engineering Awards.

Darrell Matthews, North West Regional Director of the Institution of Civil Engineers, stated : "Under Zak's leadership, EFOD North West has grown in size, capabilities and reputation. He has built a large team of enthusiastic young engineers and other professionals from around the region, who look up to Zak as an inspiring role model. He has built strong links with other charities, partnering with them to maximise the benefits of the project, and has harnessed the inputs of local civil engineering businesses to help with funding."

The Ugandan community centre project.

Zak led an eighteen-month project by EFOD NW to fund, design and build Kathy's Centre - a community health and education facility in the town of Mayuge in Eastern Uganda. The centre, completed in January 2017, is intended to provide a large poverty-stricken rural community with much-needed HIV testing and counselling services, a kindergarten, and education and office facilities from which the charity Act 4 Africa runs its local operations. Following the design phase EFOD NW sent twenty volunteers out to Uganda in pairs for a period of two weeks to hire labour, buy materials and supervise construction of the facility. As well as managing the project from conception and fundraising through detailed design to construction and commissioning of the building, Zak also spent two weeks on site in Uganda himself managing construction, working closely with the local workforce to blend the best elements of local and western construction techniques to ensure the safe, sustainable and cost-effective construction of the building.

Nick Brookes, a senior engineer who has worked with Zak both in his day job at AECOM and as a volunteer at EfOD North West, commented : "As Chair of EfOD NW, Zak has devoted his time, energy, enthusiasm and skills to a hugely worthwhile and ambitious project that has benefitted a whole community in rural Uganda. In doing so he has not only made a positive difference to the community, but has also helped to train local people in valuable construction skills, and has provided a unique professional development opportunity to a large team of young engineers based here in the North West of England. At a relatively young age, Zak has shown admirable dedication to the profession of civil engineering by volunteering to take on such responsibility and has acted as a positive role model to all his peers."

Will Smith, civil engineer at Mott MacDonald and former chair of EfOD North West, added : "Zak has worked extremely hard over the last two years, committing a significant amount of his own time to lead and manage the EfOD North West project team. He has demonstrated his ability to put others before himself and shown dedication in ensuring the Kathy's Centre project is a success for the benefit of the community of Mayuge."

On receiving the award Zak Jones responded : "I am extremely honoured to get recognition in the award and especially to represent EfOD at the prestigious ICE North-West Awards. EFOD NW's project success is due to the enthusiastic and brilliant engineers in the North-West whose continuous supports to great causes make it all possible."
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