To our great delight, we have a long list of devoted students who are continuously involved in our chapter at Boston University. At the beginning of every year, students express much interest in participating in our mission to raise awareness for global development. Furthermore, they are always excited to join our technical groups by helping prototype projects that will help move towards our implementation goals in Zambia. Interestingly, the holistic EWB process is sometimes overlooked when students join our group in the middle of a program, as the one in Naluja.
For our members and partners, we believe that it helps to have an understanding of each step of the process in order to move towards our yearly goals. The article below will outline the major steps involved from the conception (start) to culmination (closure) of a program and describe our current place in the process. We hope that such an overview of the program cycle will help give you a better understanding of the steps that were needed to achieve our present state and our vision as we move towards our goals.
Phase One: Starting a Program
EWB emphasizes a community-driven approach to development, in which the community-in-need must be well structured and have a thorough understanding of their needs. EWB’s review committee grants program approval to a community only after a thorough analysis of its drive for improvement, local partnerships, and community agreement if accepted. After an EWB-chapter applies to adopt a community program, the two partners start a close relationship that will strive for many years after the program’s inauguration. At this point, the EWB-USA chapter has engaged in a commitment that will last a minimum of five years, giving much time for setting and accomplishing precise goals for community development and increased health.
As you may know, our chapter started a partnership with the community in Naluja, Zambia just a few years ago.
Phase Two: Assessment and Prototyping
This phase of the process usually occurs between three months and one year from the time when a partnership has been established and approved between the EWB-chapter and community. This phase includes thorough research of the many different factors related to our community. There is first an investigation of the community’s geological landscape, available resources, cultural adherences, and the people’s most dire community needs. Through much cooperation and communication with community authority and surrounding NGO partners, we establish goals to assess the community’s needs. A comprehensive community assessment is made by a first assessment trip. This is an exciting time to meet, in person, our partners in their local village, while gathering much needed information on which projects we will be researching and propose engineering solutions that will address the community’s problems. It is also for strengthening collaborative ties and partnerships with our partners. During the summer of 2012, our EWB chapter at BU sent three students and a mentor on its first assessment trip, gathering much information to work towards implementing the cell signal amplification project. The assessment phase of a program is also a time during which projects are researched and prototyped until the most sustainable, economically manageable, and efficient project is proposed to the community to resolve one or more of their community issues. Our chapter is currently in this phase of the process for two additional projects in the program in Zambia – water sanitation and power generation.
Phase Three: Implementation
The crossover to this phase of the process is achieved when a final design is proposed and approved for implementation in the community. This can only be done after a thorough analysis of the project’s sustainability, a certitude that the project will be accepted and wanted by the community, and that detailed plans are made for on-site implementation. There is much preparation involved in making sure that any foreseeable obstacles will be addressed and that all measures are taken when the project is installed, in order to ensure its successful use by community members. There are multiple aims to an implementation trip, which our chapter will be conducting this coming August. The first is to successfully implement a project and ensure that it functions properly, fulfilling the community’s need. Another important goal is the dissipation of information by giving community members tutorials on how to build, fix, and monitor devices that are implemented. This also involves the preparation of a project manual and education material that will emphasize the importance of acquiring knowledge about the problems the people face and projects that are implemented. It gives an opportunity for community members to realize the importance of implementing change to improve overall health and teaches them the skills necessary to build more such models of the project for personal use. In conjunction to the implementation trip, our chapter will also gather information as part of an assessment trip for the water and power projects, as mentioned above.
Phase Four: Monitoring and Contemplation
After a project has been successfully implemented in a community, there is a monitoring period of several years during which a close collaboration is maintained with the community in order to ensure that all projects are functioning properly and optimally. Once a project has reached this phase, it can also be a time to implement more projects to improve other aspects of the community’s health. In all cases, the EWB-chapter still continues to monitor all of the projects’ progress. Our chapter is moving fast and on track to reaching this phase for at least one project in the near future. This will certainly be a moment of reflection as we will look back at our hard work and hopefully celebrate improved health with many of our friends in Naluja. We will be able to learn from our experiences, improve our tactics, and look forward to more ways of helping our partners by engaging in the efforts for global development.
This is an overview of the EWB cycle, without getting too entwined with the plethora of paperwork needed at each stage of the process. It brings much joy and hope for global health when our year’s goals are successfully reached in our partner community in Zambia. However, taking a step back enables a more holistic vision of all the accomplishments that have been reached so far and the steps that lie ahead of us in the process.
As the academic year comes to an end, it is always a time of personal reflection and mixed emotions. The Engineers Without Borders chapter at BU works holistically as a group, combining the efforts of all its members to reach the year’s goals. Indeed, each year the organization is headed by an executive board that guides the body towards actualizing the visions we have. They work consistently with both students and partners to accomplish as much as possible in the span of just two semesters. However, as a new academic year waits, the E-Board transitions to a new group of students that will be indispensible to move towards our long-term goals in Naluja and beyond.
As the current E-board seamlessly transfers its wisdom to the new executive board during the transition phase, we are very thankful for their work this past year. Their efforts and passion for EWB is expressed with much excitement every time they advocate EWB and other global development initiatives. By virtue, they became role models for all members and were a defining part in making the program in Naluja a success thus far. This is also a time to assess what the next goals will be, starting with our first implementation trip this summer, and further objectives that will help reach the same vision – providing sustainable solutions for global development and community health.
The E-board for the 2013-2014 academic year will comprise of three returning members: Krutika Hosur (Vice President), Shreya, Deshmukh (Program Chair), and Donovan Guttieres (Secretary). We are proud to welcome the new members of the executive board, and look forward to further accomplishing our vision in the upcoming year. Here is a message they have for the members and partners of EWB-BU:
Alan Pacheco – President
I’m honored to lead EWB-BU and am very excited for the year we have ahead. As our projects begin to get off the ground, we will need the various skills that all group members and partners provide to ensure our goals are met. I believe we are capable of making a concrete difference in Naluja and am greatly looking forward to working with all our members and our new E-Board.
Teresa Fulcher – Social and Networking Chair
Future sustainable technologies and the development of global health systems is in our hands, ALL OF OURS; engineers and non-engineers alike! I wish to join hands with public health workers, BU faculty, and the general student population to show people how they can help us take our next steps. Everyone has something to offer and a few more links in our organization could turn a few ideas into great progress this year.
Kara Le Fort – Fundraising Chair
As a member of the E-board, I am looking forward to finding a more dependable financial source next year. Our project needs a somewhat continuous funding source to truly meet the goals we want to reach. I am also excited about planning the fundraising events on campus not only because they are fun but also because they are great way to get the whole EWB team involved and raise awareness around BU.
Taka Suzuki – Treasurer
I am very excited about this upcoming year, and I will work hard to be a good treasurer! Feel free to talk to me about anything! I am looking forward to meeting new members!
We are very pleased to be Project Mailbox’s partner for the second time since their organization was formed! This is a “charity for other charities”, helping raise awareness and funds for other non-profit organizations. We have been selected as Project Mailbox’s March Charity of the Month, which involves an international organization that promotes aid and humanitarian help in other parts of the world. This is an ideal fit for us as we continue to work towards our next trip to Naluja, Zambia in order to implement our first project – the cell phone signal amplification antenna, as well as gather information for future projects. This is a wonderful fundraiser for you to participate in to help us reach our goals of returning to Zambia and to take a part in making global development a success.
The Project Mailbox runs through the entire month of March! So, any change (coins), cash, or other sources of funds that may help us towards our trip will be given directly to EWB-BU to spend on our projects in Zambia. Any such funds are much appreciated and will certainly be used efficiently to help thousands in the Naluja community. We all have change cast off in corners of our rooms, so instead of letting it accumulate dust – bring it to the Mailbox! Actually, any form of funds can be simply dropped off in the mailbox on your way back from class or when going out.
The mailbox has distinct red and white colors placed near Warren Towers, right outside of University Grill at 712 Commonwealth Avenue. Any amount of change can accumulate to make a big impact and enable us all to “make change” in our goal for global health and development.
The EWB-BU organization is ready and excited to present the first ever Film Festival! We have compiled a series of short films and feature length movies that will discuss both global development and the humanitarian work we do. As we continue our partnership with the community in Naluja, Zambia this film festival is intended to reach out to more people in order to raise awareness for global health and community development.
When? March 2, 2013, starting at 11 a.m.
Where? BU Photonics Center: 8 St. Mary’s St. Boston, MA 02215
How Much? FREE!
Why? There will be food from Cane’s, great movies to watch, exciting things to learn, and many people to meet!
Films? We’ll have some excellent titles, including “The Shape of Water,” RX for Survival: A Global Health Challenge,” “AIDS Warrior,” and “Kids Living with Slim.”
The film festival will be a fun experience that will give you the opportunity to meet other students that are compassionate for helping communities that lack essential resources. We hope to unite all the organizations that are involved in global work and community-oriented efforts. This will establish a common ground platform for making connections, spreading awareness, gaining contacts from professional groups, and meeting motivated students through an entertaining and unique setting.
Guaranteed a great experience and meeting interesting people!
Making a profound impact in today’s developing world takes more than just one skill set, but rather the collaboration between groups to achieve success. In his book “The World is Flat”, Thomas Friedman vehemently claims that the world is smooth and the playing field of the world’s different countries has been flattened to a one-dimensional plane. Of course, this is just a metaphor to explain the global mechanism of today’s developing world in the twenty first century. Now are the days of increased competition for resources and knowledge. With that must come interpersonal connections and collaborations for optimal success.
The nature of Engineers Without Borders maintains a principle of multidisciplinary teamwork. Especially in our chapter at Boston University, we collaborate with a wide range of students, ranging from English majors to health professionals and mechanical engineers. As we look to make an impact on the world, currently focusing our efforts on the community of Naluja in Zambia, we must collaborate. However, the interactions do not stop here. As we move towards our goals of fulfilling humanitarian work, we must build even more “bridges” in this flattened world. Our partners in Naluja have become some of our closest allies in helping us achieve and implement our models for sustainability.
Moreover, donators and philanthropic sources are another set of people to whom we feel close to and must maintain relationships with. In order to successfully implement our projects, our multidisciplinary knowledge is not enough. The funds are needed to help us achieve and actualize our goals. As we have been discussing for the past month, the Year-End Campaign for EWB is a fantastic way for any person to become a philanthropist and take action to be part of EWB-BU’s success and change in the world. Any new teammates would be greatly appreciated, so if you are interested please check out our Year-End Campaign website. Our mind set is not limited in scope, but rather comprehensive and universal in nature as we strive to help native people ameliorate the lifestyle of their communities around the world. We are all global engineers that should unify and collectively, through collaborations, make a positive change.
The end of the fall semester is always a hectic period with finals and the winter recess, but we want to get you connected with the most recent activity going on with EWB. Every November we look forward to the Northeast Region Conference hosted for all EWB chapters in the New England area. This year it was our privilege to have a group of six devoted attend the conference. They learned a lot of information from distinguished speakers and had the opportunity to interact with neighboring chapters. The students had only great things to say about their experiences, so we want to tell you about it also!
Our EWB-BU Team!
As we continue our partnership with the Naluja community in Zambia, the presentations helped understand the essential features needed to build an optimal relationship. Such a relation is vital in finding the core issues in a community and proposing long-term solutions that will fit the needs of the people. We must be knowledgeable of the social and cultural identity of our community; one of the ways we’re doing this is through close contact and open communication. Also, they emphasized the notion of embracing every step of a project as a special bond is formed between the EWB chapter and community. Furthermore, a synchronous relationship should build as teams of students will be mentored and in turn educate the people in communities on the issues and proposed solutions.
Another takeaway from the conference were the many professional speakers who talked about specific projects they were working on with their respective chapters. This was very informative and helpful to us as it provided a breadth of extra information for us to consider as we begin to model and prototype our own projects. For example, when implementing a water filtration system, an important attribute to consider is the presence of natural sources, such as hills, that would ease accessibility and movement of water. Also, community choice is vital in ensuring that the engineering solutions we are proposing will satisfy their needs.
One of many interesting lectures
We hope that this will give you some insight on the exciting relationship between EWB-BU and our partner community in Zambia. We are looking forward to using all of this information to improve our projects and relation with our partners, as we seek to make a change!
We’re officially into our 2012 Year End Giving Campaign!
From November 26th to January 15th, EWB-USA has pledged to match any donations made by you! Half the funds will go to EWB-USA and half to our very own student chapter. That means we get 150% the donation amount, whether it’s $10 or $100, and your donation will have twice the impact.
EWB-USA is also setting a prize for the groups with (1) the largest amounts of donations, and (2) the largest number of donors! We’ve set a goal of $30,000 this year for our projects, so if you’d like to donate, you can check out our website, where you can easily donate by card, check, or stock! Here’s our donation form.
The money raised by this campaign will be put toward our chapter’s project in Zambia, where we’re working on three different projects — a cell signal antenna, water filtration system, and electricity generator. We’ve already created prototypes for these projects, and are hoping to make another trip to Zambia this summer to implement our antenna and assess the situation in Naluja for our water filtration and electricity generation projects.
We successfully held our 8th Annual Silent Auction “Nimwela” on Friday, November 9th! We raised over $1800 for our partnership with with the Naluja Community in Zambia! It was a great way for us to let everyone know what we’ve been up to these last couple of months and about our trip over the summer and we had a great time with many of the students, staff, alumni, and faculty members attending.
We had many exciting items up for auction, including:
“Cookie of the Month” by Professor Stormy Attaway
Tickets to Disney on Ice at TD Garden
After Work Pool Party from Jillian’s/Lucky Strike Boston
Weekend Stay at the Liberty Hotel in Boston
Authentic Zambian Items, including tea sets, baskets, and jewelry
… and much more! We also had an exciting keynote speaker in Julie Herlihy, who is currently working as an Assistant Professor in International Health and Pediatrics at Boston University’s Center for Global Health & Development (CGHD). Julie is a board-certified physician and has worked in Boston, Liberia, and Zambia. Dr. Herlihy has also worked as a volunteer school teacher in Zimbabwe. She is an absolute inspiration and we thank her for taking the time out of her busy schedule to speak at our Silent Auction! For more information, check out her profile. Julie talked about her experiences working in Africa, as well as Project Mwana (which our antenna project is based off of), and the need for and potential from more integration and collaboration between doctors and engineers in order to increase health care standards.
The evening was a lot of fun. In addition to great auction items and an inspirational figure in Julie, we were able to hear our Zambia travel team speak. They spoke of the conditions they found in the Naluja Community during the summer, the work they’ve been able to do so far, and what we hope to accomplish in the next year and beyond.
We heard not only about Project Mwana, which our project is based on, but also about the water quality conditions and how the Naluja Clinic runs. The travel team had some fun stories for us about how everyone received a Zambian name, a Nalujan kid was able to win a slingshot off one of our travelers, and how there were even a couple of marriage proposals! It was a great way to reconnect our Silent Auction with what we’re trying to achieve in Naluja. For more information about our project, check out our website or EWB-USA profile.
Thank-You! This could not have happened without your support.
We would like to thank our awesome Fundraising team, and our Fundraising Chair James Parsons and Silent Auction guru Saana McDaniel of the BU Mechanical Engineering Department in particular. Everyone put forth a lot of time and effort as well, and were integral to making this event successful!
Lastly, but certainly not least, we would like to thank all who attended, in addition to our supporters and donors. We could not have done it without you! Check out the full list here.
“Give me a place to stand and I will move the Earth.”
These are the words of Archimedes, a famous mathematician, engineer, and inventor who lived in 3rd century BC. He was referring, of course, to the “Law of the Lever” and that, with a long enough lever and with enough strength, even the heaviest objects could be moved — the Earth included.
Since Archimedes first put these words down, they’ve been repeated often, in the speeches of politicians, scientists, great literary minds, you name it. They’ve been used in the context of revolutions, presented to graduating classes of students, politicians’ speeches, etc.
There’s a good reason these words have been used so frequently. It’s because they’re true! We’ve always had the tools (the “levers”) to move the Earth and make a difference.
At no point in time has this been more true than present day, in which the world population numbers 7 billion individuals, the fastest computers have peak speeds of 20 petaflops per second, and the processing power in the average cellphone today is greater than the Apollo computers involved in the first moon landing. The point is, there is such great potential in so many areas and a large number of resources and opportunities available!
At a time when such incredible technological innovations and scientific advances are available, when there is so much valuable human capital to make a genuine and positive impact, and when resources are available, it seems preposterous that so many of the other 7 billion individuals live without the basic amenities to ensure their very survival. This feeling only increases when the disparity of living conditions, access to amenities, etc., is taken into context.
This is one of the topics we’ve recently covered during our “Common Ground” sessions. As students, we have great opportunities and resources. Many of our group members agreed with the idea that it’s our responsibility, our duty, our obligation to pass on some of the tools (the “levers”) that we’ve been given access to and knowledge of to others.
Change cannot occur through one individual, however. We doubt that Archimedes, as brilliant as he was, would ever be able to move the Earth using a lever. However, his contribution of this idea was just as important, because it put into motion the idea that such a widespread collaborative effort (a longer lever and greater strength, if you will) would be necessary to truly make a difference. Together, we can become the lever that sets this motion in change in the Naluja Community.
We can move the Earth! Figuratively, of course. It would never do for the Earth to shift from its orbit.
Our most recent meetings have introduced a new element called “Common Ground”! We’ve introduced them as a way to get perspective on the work we’ve been doing as a student group and to draw inspiration from other people in the world of global development who’ve successfully been able to make a change.
As students, it’s easy for us to get bogged down in the everyday tasks and develop tunnel vision. There’s always another problem set or essay due, email that needs to be taken care of, material to study, sleep to catch up on. But it’s important to us that we don’t develop tunnel vision and ignore the larger reason of why we’re involved in such an extraordinary group as Engineers Without Borders. Common Ground has been a way for us to set aside a couple of minutes every other week and reflect on what we’re doing, have done, and are looking forward to achieving. Last year, it was to break ground on our Naluja Program by sending travelers to Zambia. This year, it’s been to work on developing antenna prototypes, and start research into water quality, sanitation, and power generation. It’s a lot to take on, but we’ve been diligently working on making progress in time for next year.
Below is one of the recent videos we’ve watched, entitled “Build a Tower, Build a Team” and featuring Tom Wujec, who is a Fellow at Autodesk and has worked on business visualization, which utilizes design and technology to help groupwork become more efficient by understanding ideas and problem solving. The premise of his experiment is simple — to have groups of people (businessmen, engineers, lawyers, and even kindergartners!) build the highest tower using dry spaghetti, one yard of tape, and one marshmellow. Who built the highest structure? Well, the results might surprise you.
This video has showed us how important collaboration is among engineers. No one person can attain success all on his/her own, especially on something as important as our program and projects in Naluja. We hope to continue our collaborative efforts well into the future!