PebbleCreek Community Church participates with ASU and wins SAVE International University Challenge Award

Dr. Stephen Kirk

Working with Agua Fria Food and Clothing Bank and our PebbleCreek Community Church, graduate students at ASU last year took on a special project to improve processes around holiday food distribution at Agua Fria. Not only did their work benefit Agua Fria and the people it serves, but this fall it brought international recognition to several of the graduate students involved when they won the Society for the Advancement of Value Engineering (SAVE) International University Challenge Award for Value Engineering (VE). The ASU team’s project was up against work submitted from universities around the world. Theirs was the only project focused on processes intended to help a community.

Edna DeFord, who has been coordinating our community church’s involvement in assisting the food bank’s distribution efforts during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays for more than 15 years, said, “It was exciting to see the significant process improvements these students brought to what we’ve been doing all these years. Of course, the people who have really benefitted from the students’ work are those in need who are helped by Agua Fria. As to those of us from PebbleCreek Community Church who assist with food collection and distribution, yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks!”

The three award winning students were in a graduate class conducted by PebbleCreek resident Dr. Stephen Kirk at ASU’s Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering. Annually, Dr. Kirk tries to involve his students in projects which benefit our local community. In this instance Kirk was impressed by how the students applied the theory of value engineering to a real–world situation for the benefit of the community, and he encouraged the students to submit their project for the SAVE award.

VE is a method of optimizing processes, projects or products, a methodology championed by the professional organization SAVE International. Often applied in civil engineering to things like roads and bridges, the award-winning student team instead took a more human-centered approach to VE for the Agua Fria Food and Clothing Bank. Thanks to them, and thanks to all in our PebbleCreek community who work to help others through the local Agua Fria Food and Clothing Bank.