Engineers without Borders International
Modern times sure are interesting. The human race overall stands at its peak of technological advancement, seemingly making ever more futuristic inventions more accessible for every one of us. Engineering and overall technology have made sure that our basic –and not so basic–needs are not even in our top concerns, and we can confidently take them as a given.
It’s clear, though, that not everyone is so lucky. Many communities all around the world live in conditions that would be hard to imagine for the average citizen of a given developed urban setting. According to the UN, approximately 844 million people lack a drinkable water service. These communities often depend on international aid and non-profit organizations to improve their dire situation.
Engineering Without Borders - International
Engineers Without Borders International (EWB) is one of the biggest non-profit organizations committed to these communities in need. It is comprised of fully independent and autonomous associations with EWB-related denominations, who represent engineers, engineering students, and other community members from more than 60 different countries.
EWB-I unites all of these organizations under the premise of enhancing the international collaboration in many levels among them. The common goal is to provide sustainable engineering solutions to enable long-term development to those communities in need beyond international barriers, as they clearly state their Vision statement.
History & Conformation
The first of this kind, the organization was formed in France during the 1980s and still functions under the name Ingénieurs Sans Frontières. Later, during the 1990s, counterparts were founded in Spain and Italy, and many other similar organizations have followed their example since then. Forward to the year 2001, when Professor Bernard Amadei founded Engineers Without Borders USA at the University of Colorado Boulder. The same man, later in 2004, devised the creation of an international organization to sum the efforts of all EWB organizations across the globe: Engineering Without Borders – International.
However, the organization hasn’t shaped up exactly the way Amadei intended. Currently, not all EWB organizations are part of EWB International, for their own particular reasons. For example, EWB Canada – one of the largest EWB organizations – stated that the organizations members of the International Network lack a common strategy and culture.
EWB-I, however, still stands strong on its commitment to its vision. It not only makes a long-lasting positive impact on the communities it provides aid to, but also remains a great opportunity for everyone involved to learn from one another. Students who participate in the projects are able to learn from experienced engineers about methodologies for real-world problem solving, as education remains one core aspect of the organization. Communities also have a leading role in the decision-making process regarding the methodologies applied for the execution of the projects.
As previously stated, most of the EWB-I projects are focused on providing communities with solutions for their basic needs, usually aimed at building infrastructure for a variety of purposes, but mainly the sanitation, management, and distribution of water sources.
The global impact of the organization is hard to put into numbers given that not all countries are equally active or monitor the development and results of their work. However, some interesting metrics from an EWB-USA 2016 report advises that that organization completed 190 projects in 139 communities around the world, improving the life conditions of approximately 590,000 people.
For the long-term picture, the report also states that 76% of those projects show at least a moderate level of functionality, while 66% exhibit a high functionality rate. A very important statistic here is that also 66% of project reports indicate that the communities are providing maintenance to the projects upon completion without outside assistance, which, in addition to the 75% of community partners who are in conditions to sustain the projects for their communities in the future, paint a picture that is definitely worth being hopeful about.
So, if you’re involved in the engineering field, either as a student, a professional, or are just eager to do your part for improving the lives of people in need through this kind of initiative, there are many ways you can provide your support. Here is a link to register for volunteering, or if you’re looking for a different way to join -financially or otherwise- you can ask for more information at email@example.com. Of course, you can always reach the EWB association in your country and ask them what can you do to help them make the future better for all.