The mission of Engineers Without Borders - Carleton College (EWB-CC) is to partner with developing communities around the world in order to improve their quality of life. We work to implement engineering projects that are both environmentally and economically sustainable. We achieve these goals through cooperation with local professional engineers, fellow institutions, and Engineers Without Borders - USA. By forming long lasting relationships with the communities, we are better able to serve their needs in an efficient manner. EWB-CC offers undergraduate students experiences in research, practical engineering, and social responsibility.
What is Engineers Without Borders - Carleton College?
Engineers Without Borders – Carleton College is a student led organization that seeks to design and implement sustainable technology for those in need. EWB-CC’s members come from all disciplines and class years. The organization is not limited to pre-engineering students as it attracts many from the arts and humanities. The diverse backgrounds of its students enable an invaluably holistic perspective. The highly motivated student members also benefit from the larger Carleton College Community. Working closely with staff and professors provides the organization with a strong and experienced support base. EWB-CC additionally benefits from the generous assistance of Minnesota based professionals and companies. The group’s mentors help throughout every stage of the project. Their knowledge and expertise helps ensure the successful design and implementation of EWB-CC’s projects.
Engineers Without Borders - Carleton College was founded in April of 2008 by Matthew Strongin, 2011 and Galen Kast, 2011. Both students were interested in environmental science and sustainable engineering. EWB provided an outlet for a practical and humanitarian application of these concepts. Within weeks of its inception, Engineers Without Borders - Carleton College grew from its initial two members to over twenty-five dedicated members, and has been working to partner with under resourced communities around the globe ever since. EWB-CC relies on the dedication of its members and the support of its friend’s and family.
What is Engineers Without Borders - USA?
Dr. Bernard Amadei conceived of Engineers Without Borders due to an unexpected phone call in 1997 for some home landscaping. Previous to this fateful phone call, Dr. Amadei, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, had worked predominantly in large scale engineering. As he said in his acceptance speech for a 2008 Heinz award, "I had practiced engineering for the one billion rich, the big dams, the big tunnels, big everything as if everything has to be big." However, his attentions soon refocused due to his discussion with the three Mayan Indians from Beliz who landscaped the professor's yard.
Dr. Amadei listened intently as the Mayans described the poor social conditions and poverty of their home village of San Pablo. He kept in touch and eventually was invited by a representative of the Belize Ministry of Agriculture to visit the village. The poor conditions of the village, which lacked electricity, running water, or sanitation, caused an "epiphany" in the professor. Since the adults of the village were all engaged in working at the local banana plant, the job of carrying water from the river fell to their children. Dr. Amadei told an interviewer for PBS, "I noticed a lot of little girls, young girls, who were carrying water … from the river to the village, back and forth, back and forth. And as a result, they could not go to school. It broke my heart. And I decided that I was going to do something about it."
Dr. Amadei resolved to install a water delivery system to the village and returned home for reinforcements, recruiting eight University of Colorado students in civil and environmental engineering, and civil engineering expert Denis Walsh. In May 2001 the team worked with the local community to complete a low-tech water pump that required no electricity for only $14,000. This successful conclusion transformed the lives of the villagers and made Dr. Amadei realize the value of small scale engineering. Dr. Amadei recounted to TIME magazine, "I could see the huge social impact that a small project can have."
Dr. Amadei thought, "Well, that would be pretty neat if I could start a new area of engineering, if you want to call it, small-scale engineering, engineering with a human face, and get students involved." Thus Engineers Without Borders (EWB) was created, a non-profit group that focuses on implementing sustainable and low-tech engineering projects to developing communities, while at the same time educating internationally responsible engineering students. Since Amadei began the national organization in 2002, over 300 affiliated chapters in universities and professional firms around the U.S have been created, including one at Carleton College. Dr. Amadei has received numerous medals and awards for his innovative work, including the Norm Augustine Award, the Hoover Award, the Heinz Award for the Environment, and induction into the National Academy of Engineering. His vision has also altered the teaching methods in many institutions, with an added emphasis on combining engineering with international social activism. Dr. Amadei's declaration in the 2008 annual conference of Engineers Without Borders reflects this determination: "I do believe as engineers we can work together to make the world a better place. It's time we move to become social activists."
Visit EWB-USA's website here.