NDSU’s Engineers Without Borders is Making a Lasting Difference

A non-profit service-based organization at North Dakota State University, Engineers Without Borders (EWB), has been on a mission to bring sustainable solutions to communities in need. EWB at NDSU is a part of the larger international organization of the same name committed to tackling global challenges through engineering. The organization’s mission and goals revolve around the key principles of Design, Connection, and Service.

The Design element focuses on EWB members gaining real-world design experience through addressing complex engineering problems. Additionally, the organization fosters connections between students, professionals, and communities, encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing. Alongside this, EWB is dedicated to serving the international community, using engineering skills to make a positive impact on people’s lives worldwide.

One of EWB’s most prominent projects involves a partnership with La Providencia, Guatemala. In La Providencia, where access to clean filtered water is a pressing issue due to the challenging high-elevation rocky terrain, EWB members are working tirelessly to implement a water distribution system. This project involves EWB at multiple colleges collaborating to bring water to households through a tap system. This system requires hand-dug trenches through the rocky grounds of La Providencia.

To ensure the sustainability and long-term impact of this project EWB has been paying meticulous attention to the local standards and materials accessible to the residents of this community. With this in mind, the design of this project contains elements that residents can maintain without strenuous effort. Not only is the design calculated to last up to 20 years they are also projected to stay well maintained with provisions for minor fixes alongside EWB officials stationed in the project’s area to ensure a smooth operation for the duration of it’s usage. To ensure proper commencement a professional engineer is always present to oversee projects. Completing projects efficiently remains a top priority for EWB.

When the impact of EWB and its opportunities were discussed with the current President of EWB Paige Sanders, emphasized the diverse set of skills, encompassing technical and interpersonal competencies that EWB provides to its service members. Members learn about design, complex distributions, fundraising, and financial management. Due to the organization raising funds through various initiatives, building strong bonds with supporters, hosting social events, and reaching out to companies for donations can also pose networking opportunities to potential employers. EWB service contributions and opportunities are open to all, regardless of prior experience. The organization ensures that each student’s level of involvement aligns with their abilities. Non-engineering majors are also encouraged to join because they can contribute in various capacities, including finance, organization, and communication. The only requirements needed for success in EWB are organizational skills, effective communication, leadership, and a genuine heart for service. Sanders encourages students interested in joining EWB to seize the opportunity and give back to the community in a meaningful way. 

Although EWB is focused on their project in La Providencia, they have also been making impacts locally. With engaging presentations and hands-on projects, EWB has taught young students about the engineering process. Although they only work with elementary schools at the moment, they aim to extend their outreach to middle schools. 

As EWB continues to work on its project in Guatemala there are also planned events for its members to keep their members evolving. One of the upcoming events they have planned includes a resume night in which companies and a counselor will come in and aid in the improvement of their professionalism to appeal to employers. With each project they undertake and every community they empower they are not just building infrastructures, EWB at NDSU is initiating change that truly matters across the world.

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