UW News

April 3, 2008

International Humanitarian award for UW Engineers Without Borders project in Bolivia

UW News

When members of the UW’s Engineers Without Borders student chapter heard that they had won the 2007/2008 EWB International Humanitarian award, they were overjoyed–and surprised. The campus group is less than three years old, and the award-winning Bolivia project was the chapter’s first. For more information about Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and the recent conference where the award was announced, see the previous UWeek article at http://uwnews.org/uweek/uweekarticle.asp?articleid=40433

The UW student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) has made three trips to Yanayo, a remote community in Bolivia. Their ongoing work reflects the EWB motto: “Building a better world, one community at a time.”

Faculty mentor Susan Bolton and two engineering students made an initial visit in October 2006 to assess the community’s request for help with an irrigation project. In July 2007 a team of 10 people, including students, faculty and a professional mentor, spent a month in Yanayo. Working with the local community, the team installed the irrigation system, built custom-designed ventilated stoves to help with indoor air quality and constructed metal roofs for the kitchen buildings.

A recent follow-up trip, in March 2008, showed that the systems were working and almost all homes were still using the cooking stoves. The chapter plans to travel to Yanayo again to help stabilize mountain roads and bring the stove design to neighboring communities.

In March, the UW hosted the fifth EWB-USA international meeting, where dozens of chapters presented projects from around the world. EWB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals in the developing world through sustainable engineering designs and training.

For more information, see http://students.washington.edu/ewbuw/.