NJIT’s Engineers without Borders (EWB) team spent the weekend of Halloween attending the 2014 National Conference hosted in Reston, Virginia. Patrick DeLong, and I joined the club’s president, Dan Caputo, for a series of speeches, workshops and networking events. The conference opened with a speech from Sesame Street’s International Vice President, Stephen B. Sobhani, who explained the company’s global perspective and their attempts in fighting health and sanitation issues worldwide (for example, you may have noticed that Cookie Monster’s been losing weight. This was part of their Fight Obesity Initiative, which was a campaign launched across America).
EWB-USA is a national organization that strives to resolve worldwide problems, ranging from unclean drinking water and limited access to electricity, to lack of infrastructure by implementing engineering systems and educating uninformed communities on how to build and maintain them. NJIT’s own chapter is currently working on implementing eco-latrines and clay pot filters in the town of Milot, Haiti. The travel team will be assessing the success of the projects thus far in January 2015.
Over the weekend, members of student and professional EWB chapters alike attended breakout sessions that were tailored to different topics, from club organization to health and safety procedures when overseas. Important discussions held include techniques to gain and retain new members, ways to improve fundraising efforts, and implementing anthropology methods to properly assess and evaluate the community, sustainability. These discussions were held to ensure relationships are established and maintained between community partners, as well as build student leadership. There particularly was a strong focus on building relationships with the communities, and bridging cultural gaps between the travel team and the welcoming town or village.
Saturday’s session culminated in a networking reception, in which chapters across America displayed their work in countries that ranged from Argentina to Zimbabwe, and corporations/organizations such as Boren, University of Michigan’s International Master’s Program. ASCE held booths where students could inquire about membership and get a few freebies. The NJIT chapter plans to put all the newly gathered information and pointers to good use in the upcoming semester, and welcomes any student, engineering or not, interested in bettering the world in some way (be it fundraising, PR, designing or traveling) to attend any of the regular meetings. For more information, or if interested in becoming a part of a growing national organization which strives to improve lifestyle, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.