EWB develops solutions for impoverished

Designing and implementing a solar powered well for the villagers of Mungoa-Goa, Cameroon, removing uranium and arsenic from water sources in the Navajo Nation: These are just two of the many projects the Georgia Tech Chapter of Engineers Without Borders are working on currently.

This humanitarian group puts their engineering skills to work by developing and implementing solutions to health hazards in developing communities.

Engineers Without Borders is a national non-profit organization that helps student chapters create solutions for health infrastructure needs. Travel costs are covered by funds raised through donations and corporate sponsorship. Currently at seventy-five members, EWB-GT has several active projects and is constantly working to spread philanthropy throughout the campus.

In addition to improving health on a global scale, EWB has several local outreach programs that service the community. They have many education opportunities and fundraising initiatives. This organization serves as a resource for students to both raise their awareness of health concerns as well as building Engineering skills in a humanitarian setting, both locally and internationally.

Recently, EWB completed a project in Cameroon, where they worked hard to set up a water distribution system for the villagers of Mungoa-goa, who previously had to walk ten minutes down -300ft elevation change to reach clean water. They began in March of 2008, when they took their first trip to obtain data needed to plan the water system as well as get to know they people of the village.

On their second trip to Mungoa-goa, two years later, the EWB team presented their ideas to village elders as well as gave hygiene workshops. On their final trip, they worked alongside local contractors to drive the well and install the manual hand pump, raising up the quality of life for all the villagers.

This past October they organized the inaugural “Designing for Good” competition, a challenge in which small groups of students competed against one another to provide an improved design for refugee camps. The top three winners for best design in each category were awarded a monetary prize as well as the opportunity to work together to combine their ideas and eventually present them to the UN for consideration.

Want to get involved but worried about the time commitment? EWB takes up only as much time as you give it. There are fundraising, education and school outreach opportunities that don’t require you to travel, but on the other hand several members are heavily involved and consider an EWB project more of a part-time job.

At the beginning of each semester, EWB has a new member recruitment and initiation. To join the club, members must fill out an application and attend an orientation, which explains the chapter’s work and how they fit into the national organization.

“Whether or not a school had a student chapter [of EWB] helped influence where I ultimately applied,” said Hannah Kates, president of EWB-GT and a fourth-year Environmental Engineer.

She began taking leadership roles within the organization until she had developed a good sense of EWB-GT’s strengths and weaknesses and has since been working hard to improve project execution as well as providing growth opportunities for members.

“The most rewarding experience for me has been seeing all of the designs we have put so much work into, actually getting implemented,” Kates said. Its truly inspiring the work EWB-GT puts forth to help those who don’t have basic necessities we take for granted.

For more information about Georgia Tech’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, check their information and calendar online at http://ewb-gt.org/.