Terri-Jane Yuzda

Engineers Without Borders
Starts Notching Successes

University of Calgary
Student Contributor

"EWB-ISF will work to improve the quality of life of people in developing nations and communities by helping find appropriate technical solutions to their challenges."
Mission statement of Engineers Without Borders, Ingenieurs Sans Frontiers

Imagine this. Half the world's water supplies are severely polluted. Every year five- to 10-million people die from waterborne diseases. Clean drinking water remains unavailable to 1.4 million people. Forty per cent of the world's people do not have adequate sanitation. Eighty-five per cent have no access to electricity.

These statistics call for action, and Engineers Without Borders has responded.

EWB Calgary was started in the summer of 2001. Though founded by a small group of students, its vision - to provide developing countries with appropriate technology to combat the world's ongoing challenges -- has spread to hundreds of active members. And it's still growing.

The combined efforts of students, industry and community are providing the creativity and knowledge to research and implement solutions to problems in the developing world. These efforts inch us closer to an improved quality of life for everyone.

In fact, EWB Western Chapters met from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 at a retreat at the Banff Alpine Centre, partly sponsored by APEGGA and hosted by the University of Calgary. In attendance were students from four chapters -- the University of Calgary, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Manitoba and the University of Victoria -- as well as a delegate from EWB Canada. During the retreat, students took part in workshops, presentations of past projects, discussions and team activities.

Overlooked No More

Engineers and engineering students were once an overlooked resource in humanitarian efforts. But now, the success of several projects proves how powerful a partnership between us and our counterparts in developing nations can be.

One of those projects is called Educational Tools for Buwagga, which underlines the truth of the old saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention." Over the summer, two students from EWB Calgary were sent to Uganda for a three-month term with this goal: To give students of Buwagga Senior Secondary School an equal opportunity in this highly competitive, technology-oriented age.

The Calgary duo taught and assisted in math and science classes at the school of about 200 students. Their primary initiative, however, was the creation of an introductory computer course for staff and students. The students have established a relationship with the community of Buwagga and have determined other areas where EWB can help.
Education is severely limited when the basic tools of textbooks and the physiological needs of power and water are missing. Being fully immersed in the culture allowed the students to learn this first hand.

Another project being developed stems from the obvious inequity of the allocation of the world's resources. Sustainably Canadian aims to educate Canadians on the impact we have as a nation on the rest of the world and how we can live more sustainable lives.

By increasing awareness of the issues that face the world today, perhaps ideas can be transformed into actions. Moreover, perhaps the skills, which these students have acquired in their university experience, can be applied for a greater good - one that extends beyond the walls of their classrooms.

If you would like more information of EWB or would like to become involved in their efforts, please see www.ucalgary.ca/ewb or www.ewb-isf.org, or e-mail ewb@ucalgary.ca.

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