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Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is holding a workshop May 1 to inform the campus about the kinds of projects the group has been working on and to explore the possibility of enlisting the help of more students and faculty working outside the engineering field.

According to adviser David Brandes, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, the group needs to take on a more multidisciplinary approach to its work.

“We are very interested in attracting additional faculty to the project as co-advisors, particularly those involved in Central American issues,” says Brandes. “All of our work has a large non-technical component. In fact, sustainability, which is the key to what we are trying to do, usually hinges on non-technical issues such as community education and management of the water system.”

EWB’s main project for the past three years has been providing about 1,000 people in several Honduran villages with clean drinking water. There are currently about 25 members in the chapter. The vast majority are engineering students with a couple of international affairs majors.

“We have realized that the projects we are engaged in call for a broader scope of knowledge, experience, and skills,” says Matt Verbyla ’06 (Unionville, Conn.), a civil engineering major and co-founder of Lafayette’s EWB chapter. “We could really benefit from a professor or a group of students who have a background in government and law, sociology, foreign languages, or international affairs.”

Monday’s meeting will be held at 12 p.m. in Oeshcle Hall and will open with student presentations by Arno Alarcon ’06 (Delmar, N.Y.), mechanical engineering; Will Hockett ’06 (Portland. Ore.), A.B. engineering/government and law; and Margaret Garcia ’07 (Stamford, Conn.), civil engineering/international studies and engineering. The students will talk about the projects EWB has worked on, the group’s sources of funding and where the money goes, and the scope of services for the projects.

The group will also present the poster demonstration it has entered into the Environmental Protection Agency’s P3 Competition. The competition consists of two phases. The first is a $10,000 grant, which EWB has won. The second phase is a national competition May 8-10 in Washington D.C., where the winners will be awarded an even larger grant.

The forum will close with an open discussion where the group hopes to receive feedback concerning collaboration across disciplines and about obtaining a more consistent source of funding so it can continue to offer students the opportunity to travel to Honduras.

“With this presentation we hope to show the campus and the administration the unique educational value our EWB chapter brings to this campus; things like study abroad opportunities, interdisciplinary real-world problem-solving, cultural exchange, and community service,” says Brandes.

Categorized in: Academic News