By ASHLEY E. ORGAN, Assistant Editor

Members of the Rice University chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) presented their work to kick off the Rice Global Engineering & Construction Forum held on Sept. 13-14, 2010, in Houston. After recently completing a water distribution project in El Pital, Chalatenango, El Salvador, which will provide every house with reliable running water, the students are excited to begin new projects and complete those in progress.

Projected accomplishments for 2010-2011 include:

  • The Nicaragua 1 team, which partnered with the Wisconsin Professional chapter of EWB, will complete the design and implementation of the El Panama, Nicaragua, bridge project;
  • The Nicaragua 2 team, which recently constructed the foundation of a health clinic in Pueblo Nuevo, Nicaragua, will return in December 2010 to complete the structure;
  • In December, the Honduras team will travel to Las Crucitas, Honduras, to implement a water piping project and will return in spring 2011 to construct a new water station; and
  • The El Salvador team will wrap up the project with a monitoring trip to ensure the water system’s continued operation and will travel to other communities in the country to identify a new location in which to work.

Students involved in the organization assess, design, and implement solutions to real-world problems and gain experience with engineering software. Team members consult professional mentors and on-campus faculty throughout the process. In addition, Rice EWB members organize training sessions for surveying, water testing, concrete mixing, masonry, and photovoltaic technologies to develop practical, hands-on skills. Seeing a project from inception to execution is an educational opportunity that most engineers do not experience until they enter the workforce.

EWB helps students gain experience working internationally, acquire leadership and teamwork skills, and collaborate with local communities.

Matt Stearns, president of EWB at Rice, is enthusiastic about the program. “I have not seen any organizations out there that do a better job at directly preparing students for the job market, no matter which career they want to pursue, and that is part of why I love EWB so much.”

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