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Engineers Without Borders

Engineers Without Borders

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is a blanket term for a number of organizations which make international efforts seeing to use the principles of engineering in order to improve the lives of people otherwise unable to receive such services. The first use of the phrase was actually in French and pertained to efforts made in the 80s which later grew to Spain and Italy in the 90s. In 2001, the American form began in Boulder at the University of Colorado. A man named Bernard Amadei founded it after working in both Costa-Rica and Belize. Since then, it has been heavily associated with school organizations and academia. From campuses on the west coast of America to the east coast, Engineers Without Borders find themselves on every continent. In addition to the efforts made at the collegiate level, it has also expanded to an international co-operation where there are several national groups dedicated to similar mission statements on a grander scale.

Interestingly enough they are some who have opted to remain independent because according to EWB-Canada “AN organization is more than just a name and roughly similar goals. In order to work together, the organization must have a common strategy and culture, neither of which are currently present in the international network.” That is interesting because despite the effort to maintain basic human needs (like food, water and shelter) there are still cultural components that require commonality in order to achieve a common goal. Everything is broken down and delegated such that level of involvement varies by participant. Some are passively involved via donation and others are volunteers with their so-called boots on the ground. EWB is a non-governmental organization and so its success is dependent on the countless hours and devoted members of their team. Expenses covered are on a case by case basis, but experiences like these are more than just resume builders; they build character remain with the volunteers for a life time.

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