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Student Spotlight: Brandon Hornak

March 31, 2017

Brandon Hornak, BSCE'17

Co-op: Build Health International

Location: Haiti

Fifth year CEE student Brandon Hornak is all about making an impact on a global scale. The Naugatuck, CT native has used his knowledge of engineering to better the lives of people around the world, whether at his current co-op with Build Health International (BHI), or with Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

Like many other Northeastern students, the co-op program drew Hornak in with the opportunity to gain invaluable industry experience before jumping into an unfamiliar postgraduate world.

Brandon Hornak surveying a building site in Haiti.

Hornak’s third and current co-op is with BHI, an organization that focuses on building public infrastructure to increase access to healthcare in some of the poorest communities in the world – including Haiti, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.

Providing help to these communities includes building modern medical facilities such as hospitals, labs, clinics, and support facilities. This is a major challenge given that buildings must work with existing infrastructure and economic realities. At BHI, Hornak assists project managers in building system design, estimating and procurement and has spent time in Haiti as an assistant site supervisor for one of BHI’s projects.

According to Hornak, “Working with BHI offers a unique opportunity to work in an environment where the projects you are doing [are] the foundation of modern engineering and medical services in the region. Being on the forefront of development and having such a close relationship with the community and others involved in the project is something that is unique to this industry.

Hornak’s commitment to helping through engineering isn’t limited to his work with BHI. He is also actively engaged with Northeastern’s EWB student group. His primary focus with EWB is on their Honduras program, where he was Program Director for a year. He has also served as the group's Vice President of Development, leading funding efforts and donor relations. According to Hornak, it’s the opportunity to become such an active member of an organization like EWB that makes Northeastern's Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering special.

The comradery within the department among students, staff, and faculty is something I haven’t seen or heard of in another department at Northeastern. The depth in which you work and interact with your peers within the department is an incredibly welcoming and productive environment, both professionally and socially.

Northeastern's unique experiential learning model provides students who work in industry and across student groups a chance to more easily shape individual career goals. As for Hornak, it's clear, his future will be as a civil engineer focusing on construction, energy, and sustainable development. He credits his time at Northeastern for helping provide that clarity. And as his graduation date rapidly approaches, his future is not only bright, it's also right around the corner.