Monday, 19 May 2008
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending Engineers Without Borders-USA’s International Conference in Seattle. With a theme this year of Sustainable Engineering and Global Health, interest in the annual event was high. Organizers originally planned for a turnout of just over 500 and finally cut off registration at more than 700. It was gratifying to hear the profuse thanks given ASCE for its support of EWB-USA. Everyone I spoke with, including the EWB-USA board, students and young professionals, were very grateful for ASCE’s contributions to EWB-USA. Our members who were there felt like they could not express enough gratitude for the Society’s help with EWB-USA.
The keynote speaker was William Gates, Sr., co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He spoke about the scope of the Gates Foundation’s charitable activities, efforts that meshed with the goals of Engineers Without Borders, including ongoing attempts to eradicate diseases in underdeveloped countries. A number of workshops and presentations examined the merits of specific projects in counties around the world -- “lessons learned” efforts. On Friday evening, a reception and awards ceremony was held at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. Among the historic aircraft, Steve Forbes, an environmental engineer and member of ASCE from San Antonio, was presented with the Founders Award, EWB-USA’s highest honor.
EWB offers the opportunity for students, younger and older engineers to provide a global community service that embraces the spirit of what civil engineering and other relevant professions are about. Many of the members of EWB-USA are architects, civil, mechanical and electrical engineers. Health professionals and others also make significant contributions.
There are many opportunities for you to be involved. You can be a professional reviewer or technical advisory committee member and use your years of experience by reviewing a project before it is implemented in a community. You can help coordination and provide liaison and communication between chapters. You can provide technical expertise in a particular area. Non-engineers help with critical behind-the-scenes work. There are more than 200 EWB-USA student and professional chapters. I urge you to visit their Web site, www.ewb-usa.org, to find out more information about Engineers Without Borders.