Engineers Without Borders (UK)

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Engineers Without Borders (EWB) UK (or EWB-UK) is a UK-based registered charity and NGO. Its mission is to empower human development through Engineering.[1]

EWB-UK works with the education sector and partner organisations to inspire and support people to use science, technology and engineering to alleviate poverty. It is a membership based organisation with affiliated branches around the UK, primarily within universities and engineering firms. There are also more informal networks that operate on a regional basis. Engineers Without Borders.[2]

Mission, Aims & Approach[edit]

EWB-UK's mission is to empower human development through engineering.

It currently approaches this by concentrating on two interlinked areas of work:

  • educate, and raise the awareness of, students, particularly those studying engineering, about the role that engineering can play in alleviating poverty;
  • by building the technical capacity of local partner organisations working on projects around the world;

Organisation and Structure[edit]

EWB-UK is a membership based registered charity. It has three elements to it:

EWB-UK National Team (elements of which are also referred to as the National Executive). The National Team designs, resources and coordinates all of EWB-UK’s initiatives and implements the organisation’s strategy. Comprising salaried staff, who are based in central London, and volunteers from across the UK, it is also responsible for ensuring compliance with all financial and legal regulations as delegated by the Board of Trustees.

EWB-UK Regional Professional Networks. Divided into a number of geographic regions, the Professional Networks organise events and fundraising opportunities in EWB-UK’s name. They also provide technical assistance and mentorship to the student branches in their geographical area.

EWB-UK Branches. EWB-UK has over 30 branches, mostly at UK universities but also some within engineering firms. All branches are affiliated to EWB-UK by a legally binding affiliation agreement but EWB-UK branches at universities are also governed by the rules and regulations of individual university student unions. Branches are granted the use of the EWB-UK brand, logo and name for approved activities, including taking part in or delivering some of EWB-UK’s initiatives, and fundraising for the charity.

EWB-UK is a company limited by guarantee (registered in England and Wales, number 4856607) and a registered charity (registered in England and Wales, number 1101849). Its registered office is Engineers Without Borders UK, The Foundry, 17 Oval Way, London, SE11 5RR, United Kingdom.


EWB-UK was started by a group of students at Cambridge University in 2001, at the original suggestion of Parker Mitchell (co-founder of EWB Canada) who was then doing an MPhil in Sustainable Development at the university. Sarah Hindle (Engineering undergrad) and Richard Sargeant (Political Science undergrad) were the first directors and recruited and ran the executive.

In 2002, with the help of an initial £10,000 donation from Anglo American, EWB-UK arranged its first overseas placement in Pondicherry, India, with an organisation called ORSED. The first large scale training course also took place in 2002 at Clare Farm outside Cambridge.

Current Initiatives[edit]

In the years since 2002, under a number of different directors, the scope and nature of EWB-UK's work has expanded and changed. Technical international placements with partner organisations are still arranged each year and members are now also able to undertake their own international work, subject to an affiliation process, under the 'Member Led Partnerships Programme'.

EWB-UK's work with the education sector now accounts for almost half of its activities. The EWB Challenge, delivered in collaboration with EWB Australia, is a design module that is embedded in undergraduate engineering courses. During the 2014-15 academic year it was part of the curriculum at 25 universities around the UK and Ireland, reaching more than 4000 students, approximately 15% of the entire engineering undergraduate community. This initiative is supported by the EU funded Global Dimension in Engineering Education programme that has created more than 45 chapters of supporting materials and case studies for academics to use within their teaching.

EWB-UK branches and networks also deliver Outreach workshops in schools and at events around the country. These interactive sessions aim to inspire schoolchildren about the role of science, technology and engineering in the world today, particularly within the context of international development.