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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Engineers Without Borders work to make a difference in international communities

The Engineers Without Borders (EWB) chapter at UC Davis is stepping up to make a difference in the lives of communities worldwide.

EWB is a nonprofit organization renowned for helping developing communities around the world with their engineering needs. The UC Davis EWB chapter offers students the unique chance to use their skills to do engineering design work abroad before graduation.

“EWB is community-driven. We work with communities on every aspect of a project, including training during construction and after something is built. There is bound to be local knowledge that is shared with the students and the students share some engineering knowledge. So we trade skills back and forth,” said EWB UC Davis Chapter President  Amelia Holmes.

The UC Davis EWB chapter is currently working on three projects in Uganda, Bolivia and Guatemala.  In the summer, students will travel to Uganda and Bolivia to implement their designs.

The project in Uganda is in its final stages, where students have built a public latrine system and rainwater catcher system. In Bolivia, students will partake in an assessment trip to create a distribution system to deliver water to a water-scarce community. The newest project in Guatemala is just starting out, but is potentially a huge project for students as students will work with a community to deal with water management in terms of sanitation and waste management, Holmes said.

First-year civil engineering major and undergraduate liaison for the UC Davis EWB chapter Imann Taghavi plans to work on the Guatemala project with the prospects of being able to see the project from start to finish.

“It inspired me, this opportunity, to actually get hands-on experience and see the real world, especially so early in my college career. It’s really valuable,” he said.

With an emphasis on community, students not only are given the chance to use their engineering knowledge, but also become immersed in different cultures around the world.

“We are going to a different country, so the culture will be greatly different. There is a cultural divide, so bridging that difference and gaining that other perspective is valuable as well,” Taghavi said.

The EWB chapter at UC Davis is throwing its first annual Wine into Water silent auction and wine-tasting event to support its international community projects. The fundraiser is on Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Davis Buehler Alumni Center Moss Patio.

“All the proceeds are going to be going to funding projects for EWB. It’s the first annual, and we’re hoping to make it something that perpetuates all of us here,” said UC Davis EWB chapter vice president and environmental engineer graduate student Taylor Warren.

Tickets are $20 for 10 tastes and available online at brownpapertickets.com/event/244667.

The next general meeting for EWB is Monday, May 21 in the third-floor conference room of Ghausi Hall, and all majors are welcome to attend.

“The projects have so many different aspects to their completion. A whole variety of expertise is required for it, not just engineering. There are so many facets to getting the project done, so non-engineering majors are highly valued as well,” Taghavi said.

For more information about EWB or the event, visit the UC Davis Engineers Without Borders Facebook page.

MICHELLE MURPHY can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


  1. I everybody – the Wine into Water fundraiser is actually on SUNDAY, May 20th. Thanks for reading and look forward to seeing you there!


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