View Quadangles Print Version →


Read Class Notes Online →





Past Issues →




subscribeOnline picture



Advertise with Us →



Bookmark and Share



subscribeOnline picture RSS feed


Colleen Grinham ’12

Speaking the Languages

Getting clean water to impoverished or drought-stricken areas requires political will and a small army of engineers. Colleen Grinham wants to be on the front lines, finding cheaper, faster and more environmentally friendly ways to treat wastewater.

“I never thought I would end up in my niche, but I’m glad I did,” says the civil engineering graduate. “I’ve always been putting myself out there to help others.”

Grinham has visited 26 countries, including a year in Germany as part of the University’s International Engineering Program.

For six months, she studied at the Technical University of Braunschweig and conducted research at the Institute of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering. There, she found ways to design wastewater treatment plants that can simultaneously filter water and use the methane released to generate electricity.

After her time in Braunschweig, Grinham traveled 200 miles to the southwest to intern at a Bayer plant in Leverkusen. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with German engineers, Grinham worked to improve Bayer’s wastewater treatment systems at the company’s plants around the world.

And the German engineers listened because Grinham spoke in flawless German thanks to courses she completed at URI. She complemented those lessons with Arabic classes and, crisscrossing Europe, she picked up Greek, Spanish and Italian language skills.

“Learning the language is a way to connect with people, and I’ve had the chance to apply that principle to engineering as well,” said Grinham, who served as president of the URI chapter of the Society for Women Engineers.

As a URI junior she traveled to Guatemala with a group of students to design a sustainable system of converting animal wastes into usable byproducts. The biodigester they developed turned the waste into a concentrated liquid fertilizer and produced methane for cooking.

Among the numerous awards Grinham has received was a transportation fellowship to the University of Puerto Rico, where she spent a summer training as a traffic engineer.

—Todd McLeish

Comments are open, but there are no comments.

Leave a Comment

Most comments will be posted within 24 hours of submission.

Spam protection by WP Captcha-Free

Web Extras

Well-Heeled Grads 2012

Peter Kenyon ’13

Ocean State Summer Writing Conference 2012


The Lasting Legacy

A Peaceful Exchange in Nepal

Harvesting Blue Gold

Having Fun with Feminism

Sailing Through the Glass Ceiling

Cameron Right on Pitch

News & Views

Something’s Fishy At The Hospital

Experiential Learning Made Easy

Student Alumni Association Leads the Way

The Druken Sisters: A Matter of URI Degrees

Job Well Done!

The Bookish World of Brett Rutherford

A Passion for Politics

Honors Colloquium Turns 50

A Star Is Recognized

An Added Note


Press Box

Hurley Takes the Reins of URI Men’s Basketball

Student-Athletes’ Excellence Recognized at the State House

SAAC, Team IMPACT Partner to Benefit Children

Spring Athletes Win Accolades

Class Acts Profiles

Stephanie Barrena ’12

Erick Betancourt ’12

Colleen Grinham ’12

Franco Lo Presti ’12

Mary McGunigal ’12

Tony Poon ’12

Back Page

Suited Up for Henley

Alumni Chapters →


Commencement 2012

oozeball 2012

W. Alton Jones Campus

Scholarship Golf Tournament

Diversity Awards

Legacy Brunch

Upcoming Events

Homecoming 2012

URI Night with the PawSox

Distinguished Achievement Awards


Partners in the Future

QuadAngles © 2014 URI Alumni Association. All rights reserved. Produced by the Office of Publications and Creative Services for the URI Alumni Association, Alumni Center, 73 Upper College Rd., Kingston, RI 02881. Phone: 401-874-2242 | Contact Quadangles