Terri-Jane Yuzda

Engineers Without Borders Conference Inspires Calgary Delegates

University of Calgary
Student Contributor


"If not you, then who? If not now, then when?" These inspirational words from Parker Mitchell, a co-CEO and co-founder of Engineers Without Borders, came in his closing speech at the second annual EWB-ISF National Conference.

More than 250 students from the U.S., the United Kingdom, and 21 Canadian university chapters spanning from St. John's to Victoria, gathered from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 in Waterloo, Ont., for the conference. Among this group were seven delegates from the University of Calgary.

Over the course of the conference, the passion of the students to make a positive impact in the world was evident. They were further empowered by the words of great individuals such as Naresh Singh, director general of governance and social development at the Canadian International Development Agency; Flora MacDonald, former secretary of state for external affairs; David Hughes, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada; Dr. James Orbinski, past-president of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders and a 1999 Nobel Peace Prize recipient; and many other keynote speakers.

Through the experiences of the speakers, the students were motivated and encouraged to continue to pursue their development goals. They also obtained a greater understanding of the roles engineering and technology play in international development.

Through panel discussions, development scenarios, workshops on appropriate technology and overseas experience, a project fair and poster presentations, students were provided with the tools and resources to learn more about international development. One of the more insightful conclusions, perhaps, is that it is not solely technological answers that are important. The process of asking the right questions ranks highly as well.

In the end, Dr. David Johnston, president of the University of Waterloo, compared the efforts of Engineers Without Borders to a drop of food colouring in a glass of water. Though on a larger scale, it is but one drop into a glass, more significantly it is also another drop. It is one drop that can spread and, given time, can eventually effect change.

Fast as Concrete

When we think of tobogganing, perhaps some childhood memories of a wooden sled or crazy carpet on a cool winter afternoon are triggered. But ask any civil engineering student about tobogganing and you are certain to hear the word concrete mentioned somewhere in their recollections.

What does concrete have to do with tobogganing?

Known for its unusual combination of concrete and snow, the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race, a Canadian tradition, occurred yet again this year, hosted by the University of Alberta from Jan. 29 through Feb 2. This year's competition attracted entries from about 19 universities, several of them international.

The University of Calgary registered two teams, which included the participation of 44 students. After the popular movie, the Fast and the Furious, one team was named Fast and the other Furious.

The Fast team sported grey coveralls and a yellow sled, while Furious was easy to spot in blue coveralls with matching blue sled. However, though esthetics does account for some points, it is design characteristics such as the fastest, the safest, and the most creative sled that will render you king of the hill. This year's overall winner was the University of Manitoba.

GNCTR aims to combine engineering design concepts, concrete mix design, and friendly competition. As Frankie Freckleton, a member of Furious, says: "It is a chance for students to have some fun, but at the same time apply some practical knowledge."



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