Engineers Without Borders (UK)

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Engineers Without Borders UK logo

Engineers Without Borders UK is a UK-based registered charity and NGO that leads a movement to inspire, enable and influence global responsibility through engineering.

Formed in recognition of the fact that engineering is vital to successfully addressing complex challenges such as the effects of climate change, resource constraints, increasing urbanisation and a rapidly expanding global population, Engineers Without Borders UK works to change how engineering is perceived, taught and practiced. The organisation aims to bring people, ideas and engineering together to respond to the world’s most pressing problems.

Organisation and structure[edit]

Engineers Without Borders UK is a membership based registered charity. It has a small number of employees, augmented by volunteers, who head up the national organisation and a large number of member groups around the UK:

National Team (elements of which have previously been referred to as the National Executive). The National Team designs, resources and coordinates all of Engineers Without Borders 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.

Member Groups. Engineers Without Borders UK's Member Groups are broadly divided into two type; Regional Networks and University Member Groups. All are affiliated to the national organisation under the terms of an affiliation agreement that grants them the use of the organisation's brand, logo and name for approved activities, including taking part in or delivering some projects, programmes and initiatives, and fundraising for the charity. Networks, which refer to themselves as 'EWB [area] Regional Network', are divided into a number of geographic regions and organise speaker events, debates, social functions and fundraising opportunities. They also provide technical assistance and mentorship to the student branches in their geographical area. There are more than 20 University Member Groups, which are also student societies at the Universities in which they are situated. University Member Groups are named 'EWB [University name]' (e.g. EWB University of Bristol).


Engineers Without Borders 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 undergraduate) and Richard Sargeant (Political Science undergraduate) were the first directors.

In 2002, Engineers Without Borders 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. The organisation was registered as a national charity in England and Wales in late 2003 and new member groups rapidly formed at other UK universities. The national office moved to London, where it is still based, in 2012.

Current programmes and initiatives[edit]

In the years since 2002, under a number of different directors, the scope and nature of Engineers Without Borders UK's work has expanded and changed.

Engineers Without Borders UK's international work is defined by developing the capacity of individuals and communities to respond to both global and local challenges through engineering. By developing collaborations with international partners and volunteer engineers, the organisation aims to strengthen the environmental, social and economic resilience of communities. Since 2015 Engineers Without Borders UK has focussed on projects that ensure clean energy access, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), as well as maintaining safe and adequate built environments. The organisation currently works with 11 international partner NGOs on projects in Latin America, Sub saharan Africa and South East Asia.

Work with the UK education sector now accounts for almost half of Engineers Without Borders UK's activities and targets all levels of education. The EWB Challenge, delivered in collaboration with EWB Australia, is a design module that is embedded in undergraduate engineering courses. During the 2015-16 academic year it was part of the curriculum at 27 universities around the UK and Ireland, reaching more than 4800 students (approximately 20% of the entire engineering undergraduate community). The best teams from participating universities compete at an annual finals event in June each year. 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. An ambassador scheme enables volunteers to deliver interactive Engineers Without Borders UK's 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.

Relationship with other Engineers Without Borders organisations[edit]

Engineers Without Borders UK is an active member of the Engineers Without Borders International (EWB-I) federation and sits on the Executive Committee.

The organisation also has close ties with other Engineers Without Borders organisations and has recently worked with the national organisations based in Canada, Australia, the USA and France.

Engineers Without Borders UK is a registered charity in England & Wales (No. 1101849) and Scotland (No. SC043537) and is a company limited by guarantee (No. 04856607).

Its registered office is situated at The Foundry, 17 Oval Way, London, SE11 5RR, United Kingdom.