BY RYAN B. LAWRENCE
University of Alberta
“ Catch a fish for a man and he can eat for a day;
teach him to fish and he can eat for a lifetime.”
How many times has this particular phrase floated across
your desk or into conversation? Well, it’s time to
add a new reason for using it, because this common phrase,
though simple, sums up the broader goals of Engineers Without
The U of A chapter of EWB is a volunteer organization focused
on using technology to help solve Third World problems. It’s
part of a larger, national EWB that has grown to over 4,000
members since its beginnings in 2000.
Sustainable technological solutions are the emphasis of
EWB. The organization has coined the term “appropriate technology,” EWB
member Chris Germain notes, to help communicate what that
means for EWB.
The technology doesn’t disrupt the lives of the local
people. It is manageable and maintainable, and, if the team
were to come back some years down the road, the implemented
solution would still be at work and still be relevant to
the lives of locals. There would still be people there who
know how to maintain it.
At present the U of A chapter is at work on a project in
the Ixil region of Guatemala. During the civil war in Guatemala,
many villages were forced to escape and relocate to the semi-mountainous
region of Ixil. Many of these villages are located on the
slopes of the mountains, so water access is limited.
The rainy season of this region is 10 months long, but the
water storage and collection methods being used pose health
problems to villagers. EWB is taking the initiative to help
solve this problem.
Currently, U of A EWB members are in the planning stages
of this project and have teamed up with two non-government
And Event Info
Sombrilla is a local NGO formed by refugees from the Guatemalan
civil war. It provides a helpful link between Edmonton
and another of its chapters in Guatemala. Water for People
an American NGO involved in water issues around the world.
With the expertise of the three organizations, EWB is looking
to make a significant impact in the Ixil region.
EWB has other roles in the project, beyond planning and
following through with the actions that need to be taken.
sent two interns to the Ixil region last summer and is
fundraising to send two more interns soon.
The first internship will focus primarily on a detailed
study of the area, helping to determine the best water
the villages. The second will focus on the final implementation
of the system and on working with Guatemalan contractors
to build the water system. Each intern will be in Guatemala
for eight months.
Car Smashed for Cash
|EWB members display the fruits of
their labour after the car smash fundraiser in early
One EWB fundraising event was a car smash in early January.
EWB had an old car brought to campus and charged $1 for
each 30-second match – one person, one sledgehammer,
one old and increasingly smashed up car. Funds from that
event will go directly towards the internships.
In addition to the Guatemala project, EWB is active in the
community helping to educate the public on its issues. The
organization recently put on talks with local high schools.
As well, EWB is holding an Engineers Without Borders Day
on campus on March 4 (just as The PEGG goes to press) to
help raise awareness.
Students and non-students alike are encouraged to join EWB
and come out to its events.
Go to The PEGG
search engine and type in
Engineers Without Borders