“I graduated in May 2017 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and International Studies. I now work for Abonmarche
Consultants, Inc. in Valparaiso, Indiana on local, municipal and community based projects. In some ways, they are similar to those we worked on in Engineers without Borders.
I was an EWB member for four years and travelled twice; once on a monitoring trip to the Dominican Republic and once on an implementation trip to Ghana. When I joined freshman year and started researching types of latrines, I quickly created grandiose plans to spend my spare time learning Twi/Fanti and building a composting toilet in my parents’ backyard. I soon learned that spare time doesn’t exist at Rose and neighborhood codes don’t allow outhouses. However, through EWB, I learned ways to utilize and improve that type of comprehensive thinking, and I really enjoyed seeing all parts of a project, from research and design, to working with people in different majors and from other countries, to actually getting to help build the project. That’s something you don’t really get either in class or an internship.
Through Engineers without Borders, I began to really see the value of ‘small projects’. Even something as deceptively simple as a latrine required hours of calculations and research and learning to understand a culture quite different from our own. The long meetings spent debating the amount of open space for lighting, purchased or constructed stall doors, and a CMU or poured concrete substructure stretched my mind to use the technical material I was learning in class to fit cultural constraints and material availability.
The summer before senior year, our contact in Ghana sent pictures of the latrine. The community members had painted it and built privacy wall in the front. It was really neat to see the community really take ownership of the project, and reminded me of what I think the power of Civil Engineering really is: Understanding how people interact with their environments, meeting the needs of both in a way tailored to the site and the clients, and designing and constructing a base infrastructure in which community members take pride.
From trying Dominican chicken-foot stew, to watching a septic tank reinjection well become unplugged, to finally figuring out how African women carry baskets and platters on their heads, Engineers without Borders made my world a bigger place. When your world becomes a bigger place, or you learn a new way of thinking, you become able to see the possible. This was my most defining ‘takeaway’ from Engineers without Borders, and the sort of impact I am beginning to understand I would like to have with my work and through my life.”
-Ally Atkinson, Civil Engineering, Rose-Hulman Class of 2017
“EWB provided me with the opportunities to grow as an informed global citizen, a team player, and a leader. I joined EWB at the very beginning of the freshman year and during my time at the club, I had the opportunity to travel to Batey Santa Rosa community in Dominican Republic, where we implemented three ventilated-pit latrines. Although they were simple in engineering construction, there was a tremendous amount of preparation for the latrine design, trip planning, and material purchase, which stretched beyond what we learned in classrooms. When we arrived at the community, we faced many new challenges. For example, a cow fell into a pit and to rescue it, community members had to destroy that pit and dig a new one at a different location. Based on new pit size and slope at the location, we had to recalculate many of our design specs. Another challenge was the weather, as it started pouring after two or three pm every day. It inevitably shortened our work schedule and also slowed down the curing of concrete slabs and stools. It became a valuable lesson for our later implementation trip schedule planning. Despite the challenges, I still vividly remember kids teaching me Spanish and everyone’s wide smile at the completion of the project. The most rewarding of the trip was to see the realization of our hard work that made a real, direct impact on so many lives.
Of all of the clubs and organizations I was involved on campus, EWB was definitely the most memorable. During my four years at EWB, I witnessed the club to evolve from a six-member group to one of the most influential organization at Rose-Hulman. I have met so many bright people in the club who inspired or mentored me and whom I have made many life-long friends with. Through the connection of the club, I had the opportunities to talk to many faculty and executive members at Rose-Hulman. I had the opportunity to discuss our club funding and trip planning with the school president, Dr. Conwell. I also had the chance to meet Dr. Amadei, the EWB-USA founder and was able to be the MC for his leadership talk.
EWB offers a variety of leadership roles that suit people of different backgrounds and personal goals. When I joined the club, I intended to improve my people skills, presentation skills, and ability to lead a team. During my four years I assumed the roles of club treasurer, marketing team manager, and president and they help tremendously with my professional development and leadership skills. I still vividly remember the long discussions on the club goal settings after the Ghana implementation trip was cancelled due to Ebola outbreak and conversations on membership feedback. Overall, I believe that EWB can provide members with valuable global perspectives, team and project management skills, and life-enhancing travel experiences.”
-Jung Fang, Chemical Engineering, Rose-Hulman Class of 2015
“EWB was most definitely an opportunity of a lifetime. Greeted by the people of Gomoa Gyaman, Ghana with parade and festivities was just one way that they exhibited their generosity and willingness to start a partnership. Honestly, I was hesitant to join the project because of my lack of civil engineering experience and our limited interaction with the village prior to our visit; but, upon visiting, I was surprised how little it what about our teaching anyone engineering but truly how much it was a learning experience for us. The people were aware of the needs of their village. Working with the Queen Mother of the village, we were quickly brought up to speed about the health issues they were having and how our partnership with them would be about developing the best solution for their needs. Throughout the process, we repeatedly saw their generosity, honesty, and patience with us. These partnerships can truly exist; a village and a group of students imparting their knowledge onto each other while working towards a common goal.”
-Marie Stettler, Mechanical Engineering and International Studies, Rose-Hulman Class of 2014
“My time in Engineers without Borders provided me with some of my best experiences in college. I was able to travel twice with EWB, once to the Dominican Republic, and once to Ghana. Both times, I learned a great deal about other cultures and gained invaluable leadership skills. EWB opened my eyes to how much of the world lives, and how much potential we have to make a positive difference in many people’s lives.
EWB was also an important part of my education; as a medical student, I am already putting to use the skills I gained both in cross-cultural communication and in effective teamwork. Our chapter was truly student-driven; we were responsible for every aspect of our trip, whether it be raising funds, designing latrines, or communicating with our partnering community. Organizing an international construction project requires a great deal of leadership and teamwork, skills that aren’t taught in a classroom. EWB was an extremely helpful platform to gain experience in these important real-world skills.
Whenever I talk about my undergraduate experience at Rose-Hulman, I inevitably recall the time I spent in EWB. I am immensely grateful that I had the opportunity to be a part of our chapter, and would encourage any student to join the club! Whether you’re interested in leadership, engineering, travel, or just want to build your resume, EWB has something for you – and you will end up learning more than you thought you would.”
-Nate Moore, Computer Science, Rose-Hulman Class of 2014
“EWB-RHIT gave me the opportunity to put the skills I was learning to work. It gave me the chance to meet some very inspiring people both at Rose and abroad and taught me how small, positive changes can have huge positive impacts.”
-Haaken Hagen-Atwell, Civil Engineering, Rose-Hulman Class of 2013
“Engineers Without Borders opened many new doors for me in my career and my life. It helped provide me with further direction instead of the stereotypical scenario of just going to college and getting a job. The organization really pushes you to think bigger, think of others, and to tackle on some of the grand challenges of engineering that we face in this world. The connections I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had with the people I worked with, within the organization and the communities we helped, are priceless and I highly encourage many others to join Engineers Without Borders to gain a new perspective within any field of engineering.”
-Ben Paras, Computer Engineering, Rose-Hulman Class of 2013
“During my four years in EWB, I had the opportunity to go on two implementation trips in the Dominican Republic. The first trip involved building a roof for the health clinic Centro Medico in 2010, where we collaborated with the Indianapolis-based group Architects for Humanity. In the second trip in 2011, we continued our work at Centro Medico by constructing a septic system to accommodate the clinic’s expansion. I was heavily involved in the planning and preparation for both trips, as I served as a project manager from fall 2010-spring 2011 and as president from fall 2011-spring 2012.
Implementation trips usually last about 1.5 to 2 weeks, and that’s all the time the team gets to complete the project. If the team doesn’t finish the project during that time, it’ll be another several months before returning, so there’s a lot of pressure to use time wisely and get the job done. During trips, problems always come up—whether it be re-designing something on-the-spot, having a mini financial crisis when supply costs go over projected values, a construction phase taking longer than expected, weather, etc.
During the septic system trip, Hurricane Irene came through and tried to obliterate any chance that we had to get the project done. On most days, heavy afternoon rains prevented us from doing any productive work and filled our hand-dug 1200 gallon pit with water (which was soon dubbed the clinic swimming pool). For a little while, some of us had to pail the water out manually (opposite of fun). A triumphant moment was when one of the guys on the Dominican work crew got the pesky water pump to finally work!
Of all the clubs and organizations I participated in during college, EWB was by far my most memorable and accelerated my personal and professional growth. I strongly believe that members that stick with EWB will have a similar perspective once they graduate.”
-Angelica Patino, Biomedical Engineering, Rose-Hulman Class of 2012
“I had the opportunity to travel 3 times with EWB. My favorite aspect of the trips was interacting with community members and getting a tiny glimpse of a day in their lives. These experiences made me really think about how much we (the first world) take for granted such as clean water, plenty of food, a safe and dry home, etc. Every time we returned home, I felt empowered to help the third world obtain these basic human necessities.
After an entire year of preparations and a couple weeks of intense physical labor, we enjoyed seeing the fruits of our labor and feeling that sense of accomplishment when we completed the seemly insurmountable tasks, but nothing compares to moment when we realized the true effect of our work. We may not have saved the world or even so much as a village, but knowing that somewhere far away there is at least one person whose quality of life we enhanced, is the best feeling of all.”
-Abby Grommet, Chemical Engineering, Rose-Hulman Class of 2012
“I joined EWB as a freshman and traveled during my freshman, sophomore, and junior years. I am now a member of the Leadership Development Rotational Program at Texas Instruments.
My favorite part of the trips is seeing the people that all your work is helping and how that memory stays with you. Actually seeing the people, especially the kids, who are going to have a better life because of all the work you have done, that sticks with you. I will always remember the people I helped and the friends I worked with to help them. Now that I am graduated, I still vividly remember the work we did to prepare for those trips, the people I worked with, and the faces we met.
EWB played a major role in getting my first internship and the job I have now. I was recruited by GE while presenting about EWB at the opening of a new research building. I talked almost exclusively about EWB in my interviews with TI and presented about EWB during my on-site interview.
EWB offers the opportunity to work as a team on an engineering project that is needed by real people with a different culture, is vastly different from anything we learn about in classes, and needs skilled leadership because of the range and magnitude of work that needs to be done. Overall, EWB is an opportunity to build the habits and skills to make you a well-rounded employee.”
-Alex Morelli, Physics and Electrical Engineering, Rose-Hulman Class of 2013
“I graduated from Rose-Hulman in May 2016 with a BS in Civil Engineering. I’m currently a graduate student at Stanford Universitypursuing an MS in Structural Engineering.
I became actively involved in EWB at the beginning of my freshman year at Rose-Hulman. I was initially a member of the engineering team where I led a small group to investigate potential local projects the club could work on during the winter months. We ended up working with the City of Terre Haute to design a pedestrian bridge over a small creek in Deming Park. During the spring of my freshman year, I was fortunate enough to travel on an implementation trip to the community of Batey Santa Rosa in the Dominican Republic. During that trip, we implemented three individual ventilated pit latrines and also monitored the previous projects that were a part of the program. That week abroad helping to make a real difference in the lives of others was the beginning of a newfound vocation for me.
Over the next four years, I would become the treasurer, engineering manager, and co-president of the club and travel once more on a summer implementation trip to the community of Gomoa Gyaman in Ghana to construct the substructure of a large community latrine.
I would not trade my four years in EWB for anything. I was able to witness and help facilitate the growth of the club from its infancy into a strong-willed group of people who all share a desire to change the world. I was able to travel and work with the communities of Batey Santa Rosa and Gomoa Gyaman and meet some of the most incredible people along the way. But as much as I like to think of the impact I made on the communities that we served, the students, advisors, professional mentors, and community members I had the privilege to engage with had an even more profound impact on myself. Even after graduating from Rose-Hulman, EWB and the people I met are continuing to shape my life and are inspiring me to pursue a career path to help curb global poverty by increasing community resilience through improved performance of structures in the event of a natural disaster. At Stanford, I’ve enrolled in many design and risk analysis courses and have become a part of the Disaster Resilience Initiative which aims to build stronger communities all over the world.
EWB was the single greatest experience of my life. It showed me how thoughtful engineering can transcend obstacles. It taught me the power of cooperative benevolence. And it proved to me that I can make a difference in the world.”
-Sanders Park, Civil Engineering, Rose-Hulman Class of 2016
“I joined EWB because I wanted to gain real world hands-on engineering experience and hopefully gain the opportunity to be selected for a travel team. Prior to my first year in college, I already had some international experience and knew that I enjoyed visiting new places as well as volunteering with various different organizations. The culture within EWB was extremely welcoming and it was attractive to see people so passionate about their past project implementations.
My favorite part/experience with EWB was traveling to Ghana in August 2015 to complete the first phase of the community latrine project (substructure implementation). From our travel team group, there were four of us that had been with EWB for the previous three years and two newbies. I was able to work alongside community members and learn some important aspects regarding Civil Engineering. For instance, I was able to learn the difference between concrete and cement. Also the difference between planning and implementation. The ironworkers (skilled labor) showed me how to cut and bend rebar to specification without electrical power tools. I remember a group project of constructing an additional ladder out of leftover lumber and almost not being able to carry the thing because we used “heavy wood.” The community held a large festival before we left where they picked our leader Jordan Kamp up, paraded him up and down the streets, and inducted him as a King. Finally, yet importantly, the PINEAPPLE was unbelievable!
Being a part of EWB was an extremely rewarding experience and at many times I had to face uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations that challenged me and fostered personal growth. The culture shock of actually living abroad is real and will have a meaningful impact on me for the rest of my life. Following the implementation trip to Ghana, I was motivated to continue traveling and spent 4 months living in Germany. Through EWB and the Study Abroad Programs at Rose-Hulman, I was able to have my own unique college experience that has helped me differentiate myself from other students when searching for full-time employment.”
-Andy Roan, Electrical Engineering, Rose-Hulman Class of 2017