February 20, 2012

JHU Engineers Without Borders to showcase humanitarian projects

Members of the Johns Hopkins University chapter of Engineers Without Borders—who have launched humanitarian efforts in Ecuador, Guatemala and South Africa—will discuss and raise funds for their work at the group’s annual Dessert Reception and Project Showcase.

The event will take place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26, in the Glass Pavilion on the Homewood campus. Attendees may participate in a raffle of items donated by local businesses and enjoy desserts donated by notable Baltimore bakeries. Admission is free, but contributions to support the group’s work are accepted.

Now in its seventh year, the Johns Hopkins chapter of Engineers Without Borders has more than 50 student members representing a range of majors. The group works under the auspices of EWB-USA, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that seeks to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals through engineering and technological means.

During the showcase and reception, David Mongan of the EWB-USA board of directors, and students and professional mentors from each of the project teams, will present talks, exhibits and slides concerning three projects.

In the Santa Rosa de Ayora community in Ecuador, EWB-JHU has been helping to construct a daycare center for young unsupervised children.

In Chicorral, Guatemala, the closest source of potable water is located at the bottom of a 300-foot ravine. To make water collection easier for the women and children who are typically responsible for this task, EWB-JHU has designed a solar-powered pump.

In KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, where many residents are subsistence farmers, EWB-JHU has been installing ram pump irrigation systems to provide easier access to water.

The philosophy of the group is to improve living conditions and enrich lives, one community at a time. EWB programs range from constructing sustainable systems to enhancing the technical, managerial and entrepreneurial skills of community members.

“EWB can require a big commitment, but traveling is a lot of fun because you get to interact with the locals and their culture,” said Pujan Desai, a biomedical engineering major who traveled to South Africa in August. “Not only do I get to use what I’ve been learning, but it’s also a great opportunity for me to work with professional engineers and help people.”