Engineers Without Borders, an organization at USC founded in June 2010, offers hands-on opportunities for engineers and other professions to work directly with communities in need by working on projects locally and internationally.
Since their first year, they have finished an international project in the town of La Victoria, Ecuador. They constructed a one-kilometer irrigation pipeline to aid local agribusiness.
“The main impact of the project has been that it has allowed the community to be more financially stable. Before the construction of the pipeline, the community had a stable supply of water for only three months out of the year. With the construction of the pipeline, the community now has a stable supply of water all year long,” project lead Eric Reyes-Bastida said.
The other benefit from this project was that the water they helped the town secure went to a high school in the area and was used to educate the students on different agricultural methods. By doing this, the money that the school made from the crops cultivated by students went directly back to the school and taught them about engineering by providing them with skills they can use for the rest of their lives.
EWB-USC, while continuing to monitor progress on this project, has now moved its focus to a new project in El Cedro, Ecuador, where a team of students and a professional will conduct a site assessment over spring break. The goal is to build a safe, reliable water supply for the town because it lacks the engineering knowledge to put this in place itself.
“I became involved with EWB because I grew up in a small town in Mexico where we did not have many of the things we often take for granted in the U.S. I never liked that problems that are relatively 'simple' to solve in the U.S. are abundant in developing countries. Being the project lead allows me to use my technical knowledge as well as other resources we have here at USC to help communities in developing countries who are in need,” Reyes-Bastida said.
In the future, EWB-USC hopes to grow large enough to establish a second project team that could work in a different part of the world. Many of the best chapters around the U.S. have multiple project teams. They also would like to increase communication and share ideas with other chapters in the Southeast.
The organization is accepting new members, and you don't have to be an engineer to join and participate.
“Specifically, we look for highly motivated students who can excel in a team environment and who have an interest in public health and humanitarian work, particularly in developing countries. For those interested in joining us, just swing by our weekly meetings in Swearingen 2A27 on Mondays at 6:30 where you can learn more about committees you'd be most interested in working on, and dive right in!” EWB-USC President Aidan Brougham-Cook said.