Engineers Without Borders - Boulder

We aim to empower the people of Rwanda by providing high impact, low cost engineering solutions for communities in need. Specifically, our projects are used to meet basic needs such as water collection, education, and agriculture. We work alongside the communities to design and implement something that they can maintain and operate as their own. Our projects also give university students the opportunity to develop their engineering skills in the field.
Jun 29, 2016

Summer Implementation Trip

Cyanika community members
Cyanika community members

Dear Friends, Alumni, Donors, and Members,

I would first like thank you once again for your incredible and continued support. The work we do to provide clean water to several hundred Rwandan individuals would not be possible with your contributions and loyalty.

The last few months have been a whirlwind as we’ve begun preparing for our upcoming travel! Our designs for our fourth rainwater catchment system were finalized during the last semester after consultation with our professional mentors and the technical team at EWB-National, and we are ready to go with our materials and tools that we’ll be both bringing with us and obtaining while in Rwanda. We’ve spoken to our community to clarify our timeline, and they are ready to start work as soon as we arrive in our community!

There has been a lot of work to prepare for travel on our end, from going over our designs and construction plan one more time, to reviewing surveys we plan to administer to gather feedback on our relationship and quality of work with our community, to holding meetings with Village Makeover, the NGO we partner with. We recently altered our design to be more representative of buildings and structures already standing in the community, so we have transitioned away from steel and concrete and towards wood, gravel, and lava rocks. This has saved us money and allowed us to locally source our materials, so the new plans are more culturally and financially appropriate. All of these preparations have been very exciting and our team can’t wait to head out!

Our travel team leaves on July 7th, and is comprised of four students and our professional mentor. The first few weeks of travel will be laying the foundation for our newest rainwater catchment system, which will have three 10,000 liter tanks to store water for our community during the rainy season. We will also be adding two tanks to a previous system that can store more water than expected, and at our community’s request we will be expanding that site. The following couple weeks will focus on building the structure itself, including putting up wooden beams to support the roof, allowing the columns to set, and finally putting on a steel roof to catch water. Lastly, we will install the tanks that will preserve water during the rainy season, so that our community can have clean, accessible, and affordable water during the drought conditions of the rest of the year. In total, we will be in Cyanika, Rwanda for five weeks, and we will return to the United States on August 14th.

During our travel we like to update our family, friends, and supporters with our online blog. We will post pictures and stories every few days when we find internet, and we encourage everyone to follow our travels! This blog also contains updates from all of our past travel if you are interested.

 You can find the blog here: http://ewbrwanda.blogspot.com/

Finally, preparations have begun for this upcoming semester so that we can begin work as soon as our team is back in Boulder for the semester. We look forward to debriefing our trip, reviewing data collected from surveys, discussing this most recent implementation from a technical standpoint, and beginning preparations for our next community that we will be assisting with a rainwater catchment system. We will also continue our cooperation with University Hills, again leading an after-school engineering focused program for 1st and 2nd graders. This partnership was a huge success in the spring and we are so excited to continue our interactive exploration of global cultures and engineering challenges with these fantastic kids!

Please let us know if you have any questions or comments about our work in Rwanda. Again thank you so much for your continued support, we so appreciate it!

All the best,

Ellis

Professional Mentor with Storage Tanks
Professional Mentor with Storage Tanks
Discussing Plastic Piping
Discussing Plastic Piping

Links:

Apr 4, 2016

Preparing for Travel this Summer and Current Efforts

Photo of System Design
Photo of System Design

Dear Friends, Alumni, Donors, and Members,

I would like to start off our note by saying thank you so much for your continued support. Without the unerring support of individuals or companies like you, we would be unable to do the work that we do, so thank you.

We are excited to share and report that the past several months have been successful for us as a team, and we have made a lot of great progress towards achieving our goals for the semester (which is rapidly approaching an end). I will share here the major successes we have had in the past several months. As always, if you would like further details on any given aspect of what is reported here, please feel free to email our general EWB-CU Rwanda email account at ewbrwanda@gmail.com.

The first and foremost item to report on is the progress we have made with the design of the systems that will be implemented this upcoming summer. For the past several months, our design team has worked tirelessly in order to ensure that the system being implemented this summer is designed so as to be culturally sensitive and locally appropriate. In addition to this, they have (obviously) ensured that the design will be sound and have structural integrity. Our sustainability team has been working with the design team in order to understand the materials that are being used, and are now in the process of preparing lesson plans on the properties of all materials being used. They are also working on preparing the user manual for the system. We have had the great support of several kind mentors along the way who have helped ensure that our design criteria, calculations and conclusions are all correct. We submitted our "95% complete design" a week ago and have just received feedback from EWB-National. We will be submitting our final design plans to EWB-National two weeks from now. In addition to designing the system and preparing lesson plans and user manuals, we have also selected the group of students that will be traveling this summer. Four students will be traveling, and they along with a mentor, will be in Rwanda from early-July to mid-August.

We have been working on building better tracks of communication with our partners in Rwanda and have had great success in doing so. We receive a monthly report from the community coordinator. Our team responds to these emails with updates from our side of things and any questions on the design usability and functionality of the system.

We also submitted one of our largest grant proposals for the year, requesting funding to help pay for the system implementation trip in the upcoming summer.

The second big accomplishment we had in the past several months was that we hosted our first annual fundraiser. We were very grateful to have the support of a lot of the Boulder community in terms of what we received for donations. Many of the stores on Pearl Street and the 29th street mall were willing to donate items for our silent auction. While we didn't have as many people attend the event as had hoped would, overall the event was a great success considering it was the first of its kind we had ever hosted. If you are interested in watching the video we showed at the event, please feel free to check it out at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3cPbeXJR0s.

Thirdly, we have been working on a program with a local elementary school, Uni Hills. Our EWB students have been teaching a group of first graders at this school a "crash introduction" to engineering. We have the students learning about a different country every week through a fun interactive presentation. We then present the kids with real engineering issues that occur in these areas and ask them to come up with solutions to these issues. Finally, we wrap up the afternoons with interactive activities such as building bridges out of popsicle sticks or designing play dough towers. Overall, the partnership has been great for both our students and the Uni Hill students.

Finally, we have really been focusing on building the strength of our team internally. We do this on both a weekly basis and on a monthly basis. At every meeting, we ensure that we check in with everyone and see how they are doing. In addition to this, we do fun team building activities (not unsimilar to those we teach at Uni Hills) including building gum drop towers, trust circles, the human knot, and popsicle stick towers. We also make a great effort to build team dynamics at a deeper level. We have plans in place to do the high ropes course on our campus, in addition to going on a retreat for a weekend in order to get to better to know our other teammates outside of the academic environment.

 We are working hard to fulfill our vision for the year: "Working hard to improve and better community, both in Cyanika, Rwanda and here in Boulder.

Again thank you so much for your continued support. We so appreciate it.

With kind regards,

Nikki

Jan 4, 2016

Winter Updates

Muraho!

We are partnered with a locally-based non-governmental organization known as Village Makeover (VMO) to provide and improve water, hygiene, sanitation, and catchment systems to the Cyanika community, which is located in Northern Rwanda. Village Makeover and has worked side by side with EWB-USA CU to initiate a new project between the Cyanika community, Village Makeover and EWB-USA CU, and we are very excited to be involved! Our systems will provide clean water year-round to the at risk members of several villages within the Cyanika community.

The Rwanda team was very grateful to have a successful summer trip conducting both monitoring and assessment trip activities. The three previously installed systems required no major repairs and the team was able to hold several classes geared towards specific maintenance and repair strategies for the systems including a group tank cleaning session and a plastics lesson. In addition to checking on the old systems, the travel team was able to establish a new site where the next water system will be built. The team collected both the physical data from the site necessary to move forward with the design process as well as survey feedback from the community members.This insight into community member's lives will help EWB-USA CU Rwanda understand how these projects have impacted their experiences. Finally, the team was able to iron-out,with the help of local leadership, several issues that had arisen since the implementation of the last three systems. Overall, EWB-USA CU Rwanda accomplished everything they hoping to and are very excited to be planning and preparing for travel next summer to implement an additional rain water catchment system.

This semester we are starting to prepare for another round of implementation trips next summer. Fundrasing efforts, sustainability initiatives and design processes are in full swing as we reevaluate or system design based on what we learned over the summer. As always, we are very grateful for your continued support and involvement through Global Giving. Thanks! Please feel free send any questions or comments to EWBRwanda@gmail.com, and make sure to check our website at http://www.colorado.edu/engineering/ewb/rwanda!

Sincerely,

EWB-USA CU Rwanda

 
   

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