One club I’ve joined in my first semester here is Engineers Without Borders (EWB). EWB is a non-profit humanitarian organization that partners with developing countries around the world to help improve the quality of life. The Lehigh Chapter of EWB-USA started back in around 2005 (I think that’s correct, don’t quote me). Since then they’ve worked and completed projects in Honduras. The projects usually focus on supplying clean water to communities and villages. They actually design a well, piping, and water purification to be built and implemented in the target location. It is a remarkable task they accomplish. The projects last 3-5 years, possibly more. Students even get the opportunity to travel to the country they’re working in and help build the project. The project in Honduras they’ve been working on since about 2010 has been postponed and put on hold because of travel restrictions on the part of Honduras they were working in.
So, although that is unfortunate, it is a positive for me because they are just starting on a brand new project that I have the opportunity to be a part of. The new project is in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. The project is to supply fresh water to a school there. It is a high school for adults because many people do not get the proper education at a young age, so they go back to school when they are older. The school has no water and is about 1-2 miles from town, also there’s no real buildings for the school. Classes are held in outdoor huts and peoples homes. The goal is to build a well and have clean water be piped to the school for use. Also, they hope to eventually help them construct actual buildings for the school.
The Project Class is an independent course club members of EWB can take for credit and it allows you work and participate in on the actual design of the project. Only 30 members of over 100 are allowed in. I was lucky enough to be selected to be in the class. Now, I am a Computer Science major and most of their work is related to Civil and Mechanical Engineering, but you do not have to be one to be in the project class, which is great.
The class is broken up into multiple group teams to focus on one particular aspect of the project. The six groups are the following: Well, Piping, Purification, Alternative Analysis, Compost Toilets, and Solar Cookers. The first three are self explanatory. Alternative Analysis is a very in-depth explanation for why our chapter has chosen a particular solution for a project, but also to explore all alternatives and explain why our’s is the best for said project. Compost Toilets and Solar Cookers are additional projects that the club wanted to explore to either possibly be implemented in San Juan del Sur or somewhere else in the world.
Like I said, since I am not a civil, mechanical, or chemical engineering student I tried to stay away from anything relating to constructing the well, piping, or purification. I decided to join the Solar Cookers group. I found that to be very interesting. I am actually the group leader for it. It’s a great leadership opportunity and believe it will look great on a resume in the future. Right now, my group is researching different solar cooker designs and ultimately will look into how we can possibly start small businesses in target areas of developing countries to make solar cookers accessible to families in villages. The solar cooker can help provide income for families by allowing them to start their own business. I am really excited about this project, and hopefully possibly having the opportunity to travel to San Juan del Sur. I’ll be sure to post updates on my progress in the Project Class and my groups work on solar cookers.
Engineers Without Borders is a fun club and we’ve had many social events for all the club members to get to know each other better. For example, tonight is movie night! I am really glad I joined.