Students from all majors came together on February 8th to attend the Engineers Without Borders Chapter meeting where they all got a chance to network with one another and make connections. Engineers Without Borders is a non-profit, humanitarian organization that focuses on improving the quality of life for those living in developing communities. I Am Rutgers had a chance to sit down with a few of the dedicated members to talk about their organization and how they use their manpower to have a local and global impact.
I AM RU: What sort of projects do Engineers Without Borders get involved with?
Sheel: As an organization, we try to promote using engineering to help communities all over the world. For example we have active projects in Camden, Kenya, and Guatemala – all of which focus on providing clean water to those who have little or no access to it.
Currently the project we’re involved with in Guatemala focuses on the small community of Nueva Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan. They used to have a pump system in the past that was prepared by their local government. However, due to a hurricane, their entire pipe system was destroyed and now they do not have a proper source of drinking water.
They contacted the Engineers Without Borders and they were directed to our chapter here at Rutgers.
Sheel: Students actually have the opportunity to travel to various locations on assessment trips to learn more about the community and to build relations with the people there. Last summer, a few other students and I traveled to Guatemala on an implementation trip where we did some hands-on work and helped to construct chambers to house the pumps. Professional engineers accompanied us to help with the design and the safety of the project.
Currently we’re waiting for the entire water system to start up so we can start delivering water to schools, homes, etc.
Colleen: There’s another project overseas called the Kenya Project. We’re working with a village in western Kenya that has an approximate population of 7,000. We’re hoping to travel there twice within the next year to both assess their situation and drill a new well to provide water that isn’t contaminated.
Chris: Down in Camden we’re working with a law student who has bought abandoned lots in the area. With a couple of friends, he’s gradually turning them into gardens to provide fresh produce for the local communities. In order to keep these gardens running, they have to make 50-bucket trips a day just to get water for the plants.
That’s where we come in. We want to create an irrigation system using rainwater from roofs and other sources to help these gardens thrive. Rutgers Water Resources on Cook campus is actually helping out with this process with collecting data and designing the system. We hope to have the first water system implemented by April and if this is successful we’ll continue to build more models all over Camden for all twenty-six lots.
Colleen: We work on raising money through fundraisers throughout the year. We actually have a Golf Outing Fundraiser in April on Busch Campus.
Sheel: It’s a professional golfing event with auctions and catered food. We’re keeping it really classy and inviting professional organizations, engineering firms, sponsors, deans, and faculty to come out, enjoy themselves, and advocate/support our cause.
Colleen: Our mission is extremely important and we know there are people who will be willing to help us follow it. It’s a lot of organizing.
Kieth: Nope! Anyone can walk in and help out – personally I’m thinking of going into the field of computer science and ITI. People can check out our website to see what we’re doing and find ways to get involved.
By: Jen Hsieh