BOULDER, Colo. –

A University of Colorado engineering program that has a humanitarian mission — such as providing safe drinking water for Rwandan orphans and promoting economic development in Afghanistan — will expand its helping hands thanks to a $5 million donation.

Mort and Alice Mortenson, and builder M.A. Mortenson Company, made the commitment to CU’s Engineering for Developing Communities program. The chancellor’s office kicked in $500,000 to the program, which trains CU engineering students to be environmentally conscious and use their skills for international good.

Civil engineering professor Bernard Amadei leads the program that tackles challenges such as hygiene and sanitation, power production and food supply in developing countries. The gift establishes an endowed chair in global engineering for Amadei, who is founder of the humanitarian nonprofit “Engineers Without Borders — USA.” It also will help pay for scholarships and fellowships.

Mort Mortenson, who graduated from CU in 1958 with a civil engineering degree, said Amadei inspires those who care about the engineering challenges in developing countries.

“He is a great humanitarian whose passion for educating students and serving developing communities is vital to the success of this program,” said Mortenson, who is chairman of M.A. Mortenson Company, which has built several projects on CU’s campuses including the University Memorial Center and the Visual Arts Complex now under construction.

Robert Davis, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, said the donation helps the school carry out its values of hands-on learning and addressing global problems.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or