You are currently browsing the Engineers Without Borders at Boston University blog archives for January, 2014.



Benefits of Joining EWB, A Student’s Perspective

By ewbexec

Guest blog writer: Laura Windmuller, former president of  EWB-BU  (2012-2013)

If you’re not already involved with Engineers Without Borders, you should be. People may offer a lot of different and valid reasons why, but I’m going to give you a few of my own.

You will meet new people. For freshmen or transfer students, it’s the cheesy “get involved and make friends”. Like other groups, you will get to meet people outside the sphere of your normal interactions in the dorms or classrooms. Particularly for engineers, the chance to meet upperclassmen can be extremely helpful when navigating the perils of a rigorous undergrad course load. However, EWB doesn’t just limit you to people on campus. You get to work with people even further outside your sphere. You can email with community health workers about our partnering community’s health burden.  You can hear from world-renowned speakers like Jeffery Sachs at the Millennium Campus Conference. You can network with engineering professionals who oversee our projects. Pushing yourself outside of the normal collegiate routines and experiences by joining EWB will offer an incredible opportunity to make new friends that have a hugely diverse perspective.

You get hands-on and practical experience in both engineering and non-engineering matters. Since our group is student-led, we handle everything from fundraising to project management to travel logistics. This means, you don’t get locked into either the technical or administrative unless you want to. We offer options. What makes our group unique from others is the high-stakes client-facing nature of our work. We are not cutting checks to foundations or completing projects at the directive of a professor. These are meaningful projects that are directed by the needs of a “client” (i.e. our partnering community). In these circumstances, you will grapple with ambiguity and unknowns since it’s no longer a professor creating a problem statement or stating design requirements that guide your work. You have to ask the right questions and make the correct assumptions in order to succeed. I can tell you that you won’t experience this type of scenario until your senior year at most universities. When I say “high-stakes”, I mean that the results of your work affect more than your GPA; it will affect the daily lives of citizens thousands of miles away. We make promises to our partners and we have to deliver on them. Your participation and work affects our ability to do so. This is about much more than just a grade. It’s about our credibility, our partnering community’s health, and our supporters’ trust. Everything from the airline tickets to the first aid prep to the technology testing contributes to our success, and all of this work is done by people like you.

It is the perfect topic for interviews. I can’t guarantee you will get a job or into graduate school just by joining EWB, but I can say that it has helped a significant number of alumni during interviews. EWB act as a perfect and unique case study for showing off your experience, skill set, and personal interests. While some people may be in a sport or cultural group, you get to discuss how you raised $2000 at a silent auction or designed a Yagi antenna for a public health initiative. For a select few, you may even get to discuss your personal visit to a partnering community and the various challenges you faced there. However you participated in EWB, you can easily impress any interviewer by discussing our work and your unique contribution to it. Now, some people may be upset that I raised this point since it doesn’t necessarily reflect the core values of our group. However, I don’t think anybody remains a part of EWB as a resume builder. It’s not a strong enough motive to have people put in the time and effort we require. I think it’s only fair that those who commit to our work feel free to discuss all the wonderful skills and experiences they have gotten from it—guilt free!

During my time with EWB, I have found dozens of reasons to care about this group. If you’re hesitant to join, please don’t be. There is so much you can do as part of our team. Don’t miss out because you never tried.

Find out more by visiting our site, blog, twitter, and facebook page!



Year-End Campaign: A Powerful Start to a new year of development in Naluja, Zambia

By ewbexec

Entering the new year of 2014 has given us a chance to re-evaluate the progress of our student chapter and development of our program in Naluja, Zambia. Recounting the successes of 2013, we were fortunate to send a travel team to Zambia during the month of August in order to implement the Cell Phone Signal Amplification project. During that trip, we were also able to complete an assessment for the water filtration system we are working on, as well as strengthen the bond with our many friends in Naluja, Zambia. We have made great strides in project development and growing our student chapter at Boston University. It has been a time of more learning, planning, and building as we look forward to another potential trip during the summer of this year.

photo1The preparation necessary for another trip involves more thorough project prototyping, development of education manuals for local villagers, correspondence with our NGO partners on the grounds (ZCHARD), day-to-day itinerary, equipment management, lodging, and much more. All these steps are necessary for a smooth and successfully trip. However, the two most important that come to mind are project development at BU and raising funds for sending students and mentors to Zambia. The first is essential for effectively installing the most sustainable and cost-efficient design for any particular project we are working on. Our goals for this next trip are to implement the water filtration system, monitor and improve the Yagi Antenna that was implemented last year, and continue to collaborate with our partners on any additional projects such as undergoing a more thorough health assessment.

The fundraising aspect of our organization is the second pillar that enables us to fulfill our goals and help bring development to the Naluja catchment in Zambia. With the ever-growing prices of airfare, gas, lodging, and project equipment it is always a struggle to raise the necessary funds for our trips. Therefore, we make it a priority to have fundraising events, such as Project Mailbox and our annual Silent Auction, to help with the allocation of funds for our projects and trip. Indeed, without the support from our large EWB family, comprised of several departments at BU, ZCHARD, partners, and members and their families – we would not be able to achieve all that we have done so far. Currently, we are in the midst of our Year-End Campaign – a season long effort to help our student chapter acquire the necessary funds to make this year’s trip possible and goals met. We are excited to embark on another journey of development and relations with our partners in Zambia, as we are sure that this year will also bring successes. Finishing the holiday season, we ask you to contribute to our campaign and joins us as we GEAR UP to finalize projects and plan a summer trip. Any small donation, letter of support, or technical advice has a significant impact, so we are more than happy for you to join our cause to help bring global health to some remote areas of Zambia!

Please feel free to read more on this campaign on our EWB-USA page and contact us with any questions!