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Engineers Without Borders

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The term Engineers Without Borders (EWB; French: Ingénieurs sans frontières, ISF) is used by a number of non-governmental organizations in various countries to describe their activity based on engineering and oriented to international development work. All of these groups work worldwide to serve the needs of disadvantaged communities and people through engineering projects.[1] Many EWB national groups are developed independently from each other, and so they are not all formally affiliated with each other, and their level of collaboration and organizational development varies. The majority of the EWB/ISF organizations are strongly linked to academia and to students, with many of them being student-led.[2]


The first organizations to bear the name were Ingénieurs sans frontières (ISF)-France, founded in 1982, and ISF-Spain and ISF-Italy, founded in the 1990s. EWB-Canada, one of the largest of the EWB organizations, was founded in the late 1990s. EWB-UK was founded with the support of EWB-Canada in 2001.[3]

In the USA an organization called EWB-USA was founded at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2001 by Bernard Amadei. Amadei founded the organization after working in Belize and Costa-Rica. The original chapter of EWB-USA is still a functioning chapter at the University of Colorado, working in Northern Rwanda (Although the University now has several EWB-USA chapters, the Rwanda chapter was the original). In the same year an organization called Engineers Without Frontiers USA was founded at Cornell University. This organization was later renamed Engineers for a Sustainable World following a dispute with EWB-USA over the name.[4]

Selected EWB organizations[edit]

Engineers Without Borders – International

Members of EWB-International:

Not members of EWB-International:

International co-operation[edit]

Several of the EWB/ISF organizations are affiliated with the organization Engineers Without Borders - International (EWB-I). EWB-I is an association of national EWB/ISF groups with the mission to facilitate collaboration, exchange of information, and assistance among its member groups. EWB-I was founded in 2004 by Prof. Bernard Amadei, the founder of EWB-USA.[6][7]

Several other older EWB/ISF groups are not members of EWB-I, for a variety of reasons. EWB Canada, for example, states: "An organization is more than just a name and roughly similar goals. In order to work together, the organizations must have a common strategy and culture, neither of which are currently present in the international network."[8] Many of the organizations which are not EWB-I members, such as EWB-Canada, ISF-Spain, EWB-UK, and others, do collaborate with each other and with other similar groups.[2]

Impact in the community[edit]

Researchers have identified different levels of community member participation, such as passive participation, initiative and leadership, and decision making in projects across the globe.[9] In order to have a true impact, students, professionals, and communities are given clearly identified roles for their participation in the project. The students' role consists of being open and willing to learn from the problems at hand and the methodologies used in the projects. Professional engineers are expected to fill the role of technical experts in the proven methods that are used and to communicate with students and community members. The communities are given the role of communicating with the assisting engineers and are actively encouraged to take participatory and leadership roles in the decision making of the project methodology.[10] Education is a major part of Engineers without Borders and all participants are expected to learn from one another. The three levels of participation which are used by Engineers without Borders are as follows: low (monetary contribution), middle (manual labor), and high (decision making and leadership positions). All of these roles are considered to be important for the projects to be successful.[9][11]

Most Engineers without Borders projects focus on water and deal with sanitation, distribution, and management of water sources.[12] One example of a completed water project is the River Basin Management project in Palestine. River management can be very important in situations where the river provides the only source of drinking water.[13] Projects of this nature can be extremely difficult, as the presence of biological barriers can prevent workers from making major environmental changes. Because of this, it can make it difficult to quantify the effectiveness of Engineers without Borders projects.[14][13]


As educators in the Engineering field, teachers play a large role in the projects by Engineers without Borders. There are many examples of the ways in which Engineers without Borders takes on the challenge of educating students. These examples are explained in studies that focus on types of study abroad programs (such as EWB) that currently exist and the best practices that have been found in the programs.[15] One graduate class of nine students who study design, engineering, technology, were taught about science education programs and service learning in hopes to bridge the gap between males and females as currently the engineering field is dominated by males with only 11% of the workforce being female. This class was taught in order to shine a light onto the gender inequality issues in the Engineering field.[16] The programs have their challenges, such as lack of faculty interest and involvement.[17]


Engineers Without Borders has created a way to train engineering students in technical and nontechnical skills. The model of education that Engineers Without Borders uses is called service learning, which consists of students getting experience by building infrastructure in struggling third world communities. This model builds on academic literature that claims engineering professions should focus on sustainability. One example of this model of teaching was the Engineering in Developing Countries (EDC) program at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The program had students from both engineering and non-engineering disciplines address a wide range of issues such as water provisioning, food production, health, and shelter.[18] There are an increasing rate of cases where students create prototypes by using natural resources including wood, mud, and the land itself. Wood Science is an accredited field in the engineering world; and one example of wood science being active is a pilot program called "Wood Scientists Without Borders" which was established with a goal to encourage more engineering students to participate in wood science. This program has worked closely with Engineers without Borders to build infrastructure out of wood and use the resources that are provided in the natural world.[19] Another example of students using natural resources is through mud brick constructions which consist of cost savings, thermal mass, eco friendliness, self-satisfaction, and aesthetics. Mud bricks have become a process and method for engineering students to help build and rebuild communities that have been destroyed by natural or manmade disasters. In 2009 it was found that using mud bricks to rebuild houses that were destroyed in ways such as ecological degradation, natural disasters, or political turmoil, was a cheap and efficient way to rebuild infrastructure; and today 30% of the world's present population live in earthen structures.[20] Director of Engineering Service Corps of the USA - Engineers Without Borders, El-Omari presented a re-construction project to the United Nations where Engineers Without Borders would use the area behind the living areas of refugees to dig wells and bring water to the Ein Sultan Refugee camp.[21] According to the Engineers without Borders website, they work with students to bridge the gap between the learning environment in schools and the "real" world problems that are found in today's world.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About". EWB-I. 16 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b Uzair M. (Sam) Shamsi, Michael Kang, Megan Campbell, Melissa Day and Adam Shamsi. (2013). Page 439 of full text PDF. Water Engineering Without Borders: Opportunities for Solving Water System Problems Throughout the World. Journal of Water Management Modeling. ISSN 2292-6062. (Guelph, Ontario, Canada).
  3. ^ Newby, Tom. (Article - Issue 32, September 2007). Engineers Without Borders Archived 8 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Ingenia Online Magazine. Royal Academy of Engineering. (London, England)
  4. ^ Engineers for a Sustainable World: Cornell University Archived 8 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Cornell University. (New York, USA).
  5. ^ "ООО «Инженеры без Границ»".
  6. ^ Joshua H. Smith and David Brandes. (5 February 2015). Academic Support for Engineers Without Borders–USA Student Chapters: The Lafayette College Experience. Lafayette College. (Pennsylvania, USA)
  7. ^ (20 February 2016). Bernard Amadei Engineers Without Borders Usa Free Related PDF's Archived 8 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Yeungus.Com
  8. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". EWB Canada. Archived from the original on 15 January 2008.
  9. ^ a b Prokopy, Linda (2005). "The relationship between participation and project outcomes: Evidence from rural water supply projects in India". World Development. 33 (11): 1801–1819. doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2005.07.002.
  10. ^ Ramírez, María C.; Bengo, Irene; Mereu, Riccardo; Bejarano R., Astrid X.; Silva, Juan C. (2011). "Participative Methodology for Local Development: The Contribution of Engineers without Borders from Italy and Columbia: Towards the Improvement of Water Quality in Vulnerable Communities". Systemic Practice and Action Research. 24: 45–66. doi:10.1007/s11213-010-9175-3. S2CID 55158496. ProQuest 840087443.
  11. ^ Montgomery, Melissa (2016). "What Works in Water Supply and Sanitation Projects in Developing Countries with EWB-USA". Environ Health.
  12. ^ Al-Faquih, Laith (2007). "Water Problems in the Middle East". Alexandria: Water Environment Federation.
  13. ^ a b Laster, Richard; Livney, Dan (2013). "Basin Management in the Context of Israel and the Palestine Authority". Water Policy in Israel. Global Issues in Water Policy. Vol. 4. pp. 227–242. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-5911-4_15. ISBN 978-94-007-5910-7.
  14. ^ Brodeur, Doris (2012). "The ethics of globalization". Proceedings of the 8th International CDIO Conference: 1–4.
  15. ^ Parkinson, Alan (2007). "Engineering study abroad programs: formats, challenges, best practices". Journal for Global Engineering Education 2. 2: 2.
  16. ^ Baker, Dale; Krause, Stephen; Yasar, Senay; Roberts, Chell; Robinson-Kurpius, Sharon (July 2007). "An Intervention to Address Gender Issues in a Course on Design, Engineering, and Technology for Science Educators". Journal of Engineering Education. 96 (3): 213. doi:10.1002/j.2168-9830.2007.tb00931.x. S2CID 110217815.
  17. ^ Axlund, RaeLyn (Fall 2009). "Faculty Engagement in Service-Learning and Community-Based Research WRCCC Survey Data Summary". Western Region Campus Compact Consortium (Regional Report).
  18. ^ Amadei, Bernard; Sandekian, Robyn (2010). "Model of Integrating Humanitarian Development into Engineering Education". Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice. 136 (2): 84–92. doi:10.1061/(asce)ei.1943-5541.0000009.
  19. ^ Shupe, Todd (2010). "Guest Editorial: The Importance of Wood Science Professional Organizations". Journal of Tropical Forest Science. 22 (2).
  20. ^ Sheweka, Samar (2011). "Using Mud Bricks as a Temporary Solution for Gaza Reconstruction". Energy Procedia. 6: 236–240. doi:10.1016/j.egypro.2011.05.027.
  21. ^ El-Omari (2015). "Present Work Given to United Nations". Washington DC: HT Media LTD.
  22. ^ Hartman, Harriet; Hartman, Moche (February 2008). "How Undergraduate Engineering Students Perceive Women's (and Men's) Problems in Science, Math and Engineerring". Sex Roles. 58 (3–4): 251–265. doi:10.1007/s11199-007-9327-9. S2CID 143650117.

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