april 2005 ISSUE

Alan Martin

student column

EWB Seeks to Make History


Nelson Mandela said: “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.” Through their international projects, engineering students at the University of Calgary are helping human beings do the right thing by overcoming poverty and making the world a better place.

U of C's Engineers Without Borders joined chapters across Canada in celebrating EWB Day on March 3, vowing to help Make Poverty History. For a donation, people could remove a piece from a giant puzzle set up on the floor of the MacEwan Student Centre.


The Puzzle of Poverty
The U of C used this puzzle to raise funds.

Donations collected go towards EWB's international projects.

EWB estimates that 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty right now. More than 800 million people will go to bed hungry tonight, and 50,000 will die from poverty-related causes tomorrow.

Computers Abroad

One of EWB Calgary's international projects is Scala, which stands for Securing Computer Access Locally and Abroad. The project goal is to promote human development in the Philippines through access to information.

EWB Calgary has set a goal of $15,000 and 75 donated computers for Scala. Already, the computers total 45, and the first shipment has already left.

Amy Montgomery, a mechanical engineering student, will head to the Philippines for a four-month summer placement as the

U of C's overseas volunteer.

A Shot in the Farm

EWB Calgary is also involved in the Zambia Small Farmer Support Project. With local partner International Development Enterprises, the project provides small farmers in Zambia with the tools and skills to improve their agricultural productivity and help them gain access to income-enhancing products.

Improving the lot of small-scale farmers in Zambia will also improve the lives of others there — food shortages are a major problem.

David Damberger, E.I.T., a mechanical engineering alumnus, will be in Zambia working on this project for the next 12 months or more. Tara Collins, a student in development studies, will arrive in May for a short-term placement.

Both are volunteers, receiving only a small daily stipend for living expenses. Project budget is just $19,000, and that covers David and Tara.

One major area that the Zambia project is focused on is providing micro-irrigation and safe drinking water. Providing a good source of water is a key part of helping farmers improve their crops.

Another focus is ensuring that farmers can get their crops to market. Low population density and poor infrastructure add to the distribution difficulties farmers face.

Young But Vigorous

Engineers Without Borders is a fairly new organization, but it is Canada's fastest growing development organization. EWB Canada was formed in 2000, and the University of Calgary chapter was founded in 2001.

There are currently 22 EWB chapters in Canada. The University of Calgary chapter has been growing steadily, and was one of two named EWB Chapter of the Year at the annual EWB conference in Vancouver.

The Calgary chapter received this honour based partly on its work with overseas projects, including the two mentioned in this article.

CEC Update

The U of C had a great showing at the Canadian Engineering Competition, March 3-6. Each of our four teams earned a cash prize.

Allison Hagerman won the Social Awareness Award. This award goes to someone who increases awareness of a social problem or recognizes humanitarian aspects in the implementation of a design solution.

In Team Design, the team of Micheal Akre, David Castalino, Lionel Li and Brendan McDougall took second. In Senior Team Design, the team of Jordan Abbott, Darcy Funk, Daryl Van Boom and Joshua van Lindenberg also placed second.

Joseph Chang won second place in the Editorial Communications competition.

Congratulations to all the teams!

Author Credits

University of Calgary
Student Contributor (Engineering)