EMI USA mobilises teams of staff and volunteer design professionals to provide architecture & engineering services for approved development projects. EMI’s Technical Assistance Pre-Application is the first step of the project approval process.

The EMI USA design team brings together staff with international experience and volunteers with a wide range of technical experience to develop master planning, architecture, and infrastructure solutions for our partner ministries all around the world. The scope of EMI USA’s architecture & engineering services typically revolve around Concept Design.

Concept Design services often begin with an EMI Project Trip, where the EMI team visits the project site for 7-10 days. The team will assess & survey the property and consult with the project partner to understand the vision for the project and develop design ideas that meet the needs of the partner’s ministry.

After the Project Trip, the results of the Assessment or Concept Design are analyzed and refined, then published as a report, often with graphic renderings or drawings. Concept Design documents can be used for sharing vision inside and outside the ministry team to build consensus and support for the project. Concept Design is a baseline and as such can be refined further with critical alterations, or given to a local design professional to guide their production of detailed construction documents.

Sample Concept Set


Technical capabilities within our team:

Land Surveying: Develop existing/as-built condition documents and topographic surveys, or stakeouts for construction.

Master Planning: The spatial planning and design of the built environment and integration with the natural, including site, structure, building massing, infrastructure & public space design.

Architectural design: Conceptual design of structures to achieve a coherent form and function.

Civil engineering: Assessment and design of services such as water supply, storm water management, wastewater treatment and dispersal, and transportation networks. For more detail, see WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) section.

Structural engineering: Assessment and conceptual design of building structural systems.

Electrical engineering: Assessment and conceptual design of electrical systems including power supply, generator systems, transmission, circuity, UPS systems, lightning protection (earthing/ grounding) and solar installations. For more detail, see Electrical section.

Mechanical engineering and HVAC: Assessment and conceptual design of mechanical infrastructure including HVAC systems, plumbing systems, fire protection, fans, pumps, and medical gas systems.

Disaster Risk Reduction: Assessment and conceptual designs for mitigating risk associated with disasters as it relates to communicates, structures, and infrastructure. For more detail, see DRR section.

EMI USA mobilises teams of staff and volunteer design professionals to provide Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) design, installation, and training services for approved development and infrastructure projects. EMI’s Technical Assistance Pre-Application is the first step of the project approval process.

Below are ways to get involved with WASH services through EMI.

Project Trips

WASH involves some of the most basic needs for human health, survival, and freedom from poverty. Still, many people lack proper access to these services. WASH solutions are essential in most of EMI’s development and infrastructure design projects. For a current list of projects, visit our Trips page.

Infrastructure Project Management

EMI assists partner ministries with developing sustainable infrastructure by managing these projects through design, installation, and implementation. This can include local contractor/engineer selection, detailed design review, equipment selection, project update meetings, inspections, and training. The teams involved with these projects provide remote support (3-5 hours per week) and occasional site visits, as required.

Disaster Response

Disasters can create and intensify WASH needs. EMI partners with relief organizations to help address these concerns by offering technical support and surge capacity. Find out more information about joining the EMI disaster response team on our DR page.

EMI Staff Opportunities

If you are interested in joining EMI staff to be a part of WASH community development projects or infrastructure project management, please contact us at

EMI USA mobilises teams of staff and volunteer design professionals to provide Electrical Engineering (EE) design, installation, and training services for approved development projects. EMI’s Technical Assistance Pre-Application is the first step of the project approval process.

The four main stages of EMI USA’s Electrical Engineering services are as follows:

Stage 1: Assessment and Recommendations
On any EMI project trip, an assessment, conceptual electrical design, and/or any improvement recommendations are elements of Stage 1. EMI’s Electrical Design Guide enables any Electrical Engineer to produce a good assessment and conceptual design for an EMI project. Additional tools such as recording power analyzers, ground testing meters, and thermal imaging cameras are available at EMI for the assessment stage.

Stage 2: Design-Build Firm Selection, Detailed Design, and Installation
Once Stage 1 is completed, a detailed Scope of Work is created. Along with conceptual design drawings, the Scope of Work is given to local electrical design-build firms for them to submit bids for detailed design and installation. The goal is to identify a capable design-build firm as close to the site as possible which shows an ability and willingness to learn—even if they haven’t done a project like the one being proposed. EMI works with the client ministry to interview design-build firms, selecting the most competent one based on interviews and the submitted bids. Once the design-build firm is selected, EMI electrical staff and volunteers work with local designers to review and approve their detailed electrical designs and schedules. Often a design must be adjusted to accommodate locally available materials. EMI spends significant time to coach these designers as they select the best redesign for the project. During installation, an EMI staff or volunteer will be on site at critical junctures to ensure the design is being followed and that the quality of the installation is acceptable.

Stage 3: Train Local Maintenance Staff
The people operating the electrical system need to understand how it works and how to keep it maintained. Many maintenance personnel at typical EMI project sites have minimal technical training and limited formal education. EMI prepares and presents these training events using “Orality Principles.” To communicate technical information using orality principles, EMI uses a variety of techniques including simplified drawings, stories, pictures, videos, analogies that trainees can relate to, hands-on workshops, and a lot of repetition.

Stage 4: Evaluation
After the new system has operated for several months, EMI can send a volunteer to the site. This is to ensure that the system is operating as intended and to provide any further training needed by the maintenance staff. In addition, design-build firms are asked to include a 3-5 year maintenance plan in their quotes to cover visits back to the site to evaluate the system and resolve any issues.

Calling Electrical Engineers

Many ministries are showing interest in having EMI serve them in this capacity, and this work strategy could support two or three more full-time electrical engineers at EMI. Consider using your EE skills for an eternal investment in design professionals and maintenance staff around the world!

EMI USA mobilises teams of staff and volunteer design professionals to provide Disaster Response / Disaster Risk Reduction services. Requesting help is the first step in that process.

Whether your community has experienced or is in danger of experiencing an earthquake, flood, windstorm, or other disaster, EMI USA’s DR/DRR team can help by providing:

  • Assessment of damaged buildings for safe reoccupation
  • Design of retrofit or repair measures for damaged buildings and infrastructure
  • Design of structurally sound and culturally appropriate transitional shelters
  • Master plan of communities and camps for displaced peoples
  • Technical consulting on shelter programming and project implementation
  • Restoration, design and/or installation of water and wastewater systems
  • Design of flood water mitigation solutions
  • Technical consulting on WASH programming and project implementation
  • Survey potential hazards and risks and provide mitigation recommendations

If your community or a community you work with can be helped by any of these services, please tell us how by filling out the short application and we will get back to you immediately.