Engineers Without Borders Rice University Student Chapter

The Engineers Without Borders-USA Rice University Student Chapter is a student-run organization dedicated to collaborating with communities in the developing world to provide sustainable and culturally appropriate engineering solutions. Students within the chapter design and implement projects that aim at improving quality of life while forming strong intercultural partnerships. Through these projects, the EWB-USA Rice University Student Chapter encourages the development of socially and environmentally conscious engineers with outstanding leadership skills and practical, hands-on international engineering experience. EWB-USA projects have very crucial engineering design components, and d...

Engineers Without Borders Rice University Student Chapter
6100 Main St.
Houston, TX 77005
United States
2817878225
http://ewb.rice.edu

Board of Directors

Adriana Gamboa, Michael Heisel, Elizabeth Ramirez, Soorya Avali, David Younger, Elizabeth Diaz-Stubbs, David Howard, Justin Ng, Vivaswath Kumar, Joseph Vento, Josh Rutenberg, Krystha Cantu, Akeem McLennon

Mission

The Engineers Without Borders-USA Rice University Student Chapter is a student-run organization dedicated to collaborating with communities in the developing world to provide sustainable and culturally appropriate engineering solutions. Students within the chapter design and implement projects that aim at improving quality of life while forming strong intercultural partnerships. Through these projects, the EWB-USA Rice University Student Chapter encourages the development of socially and environmentally conscious engineers with outstanding leadership skills and practical, hands-on international engineering experience. EWB-USA projects have very crucial engineering design components, and developing the technical expertise to implement these projects is a main focus of the organization. However, a truly sustainable approach must consider more than just the technical aspects. Each project has legal, political, cultural, social, or health-related issues that must be addressed. Therefore, EWB-USA students are trained to adopt a holistic approach to addressing challenges in communities. This dual focus attracts many non-engineering students to the organization, and the collaboration allows for the give and take of knowledge between students in a multi-disciplinary setting, resulting in well-rounded members that can work effectively on a team. This past year, the EWB-USA Rice University Student Chapter introduced an orientation session and additional training workshops that address "soft skills," such as cultural awareness and effective communication. One of the goals of the EWB-USA Rice University Student Chapter is to become an organization that is accessible to the entire Rice community. To enrich the educational opportunities that are available for Rice engineering students, the chapter has partnered with the school of Engineering to create courses which focus on sustainability and engineering in the developing world, including Sustainable Water Purifications for the Developing World, Intercultural Engineering Communication, and Sustainable Technologies. The EWB-USA Rice University Student Chapter has also played a role in the introduction of the new Energy and Water Sustainability minor.

Programs

Los Alas, El Salvador The El Salvador team recently finished its project in the rural community of El Pital, where it has been working since 2006. Before EWB-USA became involved, the residents of El Pital carried unclean water up steep hills to their homes for all of their daily water needs. To alleviate this burden, the Rice EWB-USA team designed and constructed a water distribution system capable of providing clean water to every house in the community. The system consists of two water storage tanks, one at the water source and the other at the highest point in the community, as well as a piping system that connects the two tanks and delivers water to several distribution points throughout the community. This past December 2010 the team returned to test how the system was functioning. Currently, not only is the system working in an exemplary fashion, but the community has expanded our system on their own, building additional piping to the previously untouched western area of the community. The health of the community is steadily improving, and more people are connecting their individual homes to the system. El Pital has officially taken sole responsibility for their water system, and it is time for us to work in a new community. During the December trip we found the community of Los Alas, where individuals are suffering from kidney failure due to the high levels of heavy metals in their water. The team is currently preparing for a December 2011 trip to Los Alas to gather data in order to determine specific design criteria for a new water system. Our chapter hopes to accomplish another water distribution and purification system in this community within the next year and a half. Matagalpa, Nicaragua After successful completion of the 30 meter pedestrian bridge in El Panama, Nicaragua, the Nicaragua I team will begin the construction of a new 60 meter pedestrian bridge in the community of Matagalpa in northern Nicaragua. This project is expected to impact about 15,000 people in total including the communities surrounding Matagalpa. It will allow the members of the community to have easy access to schools, healthcare, and commerce. The Nicaragua I team is currently preparing for an assessment trip in August 2011 to gather the necessary data to design the bridge. The team plans to construct the bridge during trips in December 2011 and March 2012. Pueblo Nuevo, Nicaragua The Nicaragua II team is nearing the end of their work in Pueblo Nuevo, a community they have worked with since January 2008. The second project, a health clinic, was completed in a recent 20 day May 2011 trip. The walls had been built during a trip in March 2011, so the major goals of the May trip were to complete the roof, organize furnishing, and schedule medical visits. By the end of the trip, a corrugated tin roof for the clinic was completed and the PVC sections of a rainwater catchment system were installed. Also, tiles were installed as flooring for the clinic and furniture was arranged. Most importantly, the team and community were able to negotiate a deal with local government officials to ensure that adequate medical staff would be provided for the clinic. Several students also continued an ongoing health campaign at the local school, focused on teaching children about the importance of sanitation practices. At the end of the May trip, the community organized a large celebration to commemorate the opening of the health clinic, and rewarded the students with a plaque to recognize their help. The team is excited to return to Pueblo Nuevo in a year to follow up on their projects.

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