Engineers Without Borders: Inspiring the Next Generation of Engineers

Engineers Without Borders, a non-profit organization, works with volunteers on engineering projects across the globe.
Susan Fourtané
Civil engineers Source: Sturti/iStock

Engineers and engineering students of all disciplines shaping the world to make it a better place. This is what Engineers Without Borders International is all about. Today, for no special reason, we want to say thank you to each and every engineer around the world who contributed in the past and also to those who are contributing in the present with their work to the day-to-day challenges that society is still facing in the 21st century.

If you happen to have an engineer in the family, or a friend, a neighbor, a colleague, a LinkedIn contact, anyone who has devoted their life to engineering say thank you for their work today. It will put a smile on their face and will brighten up their day. A little recognition makes anyone happy and works as a great motivator to work even harder.

So let's have a little look at what the Engineers Without Borders International and its different local societies across the globe do to inspire others.

Inspiring the next-generation and future engineers

“I didn't really enjoy my engineering degree for the first two and a half years and was looking at ways to get out of engineering, but EWB really highlighted the potential that engineering has for society and I'm so glad that I'm able to be involved with it. I now feel inspired about engineering and really want to take full advantage of the skills and opportunities to make a positive contribution.” --Anna Lea, EWB Oxford Society 

Engineers Without Borders-UK sees engineering as a force shaping the world we live in.

This can include careful consideration of appropriate technologies, sciences, and social criteria that contribute to improving the quality of life of all inhabitants of planet Earth.

Engineers Without Borders-UK has inspired young people because it places engineering in a social and environmental context, which is so important in today's world as we fight different environmental social and environmental challenges.

It is important to demonstrate that there is more to engineering than number-crunching; and much more to be achieved than making something cheaper, bigger, or faster.

One of the most repeated comments by young engineering students is that student members who were planning on leaving engineering altogether changed their mind after they got involved with Engineers Without Borders. That is quite an achievement on its own. 

The work done by Engineers Without Borders can take different approaches: 

  • Workshops in Schools

Interactive and hands-on, the workshops are run by ambassadors and teachers who inspire and encourage the next generation of engineers from diverse backgrounds helping them to choose careers in engineering.

All the ambassadors are part of the national STEM Ambassador program and eligible to work with young people.

The two workshops offered --Water for Everyone Everywhere and Power for Everyone Everywhere-- are built on the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals and the concept of global citizenship.

The workshops have been created for primary and secondary school students. They encourage students to think globally and relate engineering to human needs.

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  • Design Challenges 

 These design challenges are thought and developed for university students. The challenges are on real-world problems without real-world pressures and risks. The students can then develop the skills, knowledge, and experience they will need to address global and local issues. There are two challenges: 

Engineering for People Design Challenge 

The Engineering for People Challenge allows students of the first and second year to investigate and respond to real-world problems. It guides the students in the human and social impact of engineering. Through this early challenge, they can develop skills to operate and innovate in the complex global workplace. This challenge is a collaboration between three Engineers Without Borders: South Africa, U.S.A., and U.K. where students in the U.K., Ireland, South Africa, and the U.S. can take part. 

Efficiency for Access Design Challenge 

The Efficiency for Access Design Challenge is for students in either their final year of their bachelor's or master's degree to be linked to industry in order to help accelerate global energy access. They work to improve appliances that provide critical energy services such as refrigeration, cooling, and communications. 

  • Projects 

These projects increase access to clean water, improve sanitation facilities, build reliable energy resources, and build resilient environments. 

The current eight projects include: 

- Better connected in Nepal

- Dry toilets in Peru 

- Reinforced plaster in Bangladesh 

- Off-grid renewables in Kenya

- Re-engineering urban spaces in Kenya

- Clean water in Mexico 

- Disaster resistant building in Rwanda 

- Pollution revolution in India 

Invisible Superheroes: Engineers without borders with passion for building a better world

The first Engineers Without Borders (EWB) group in the U.K. started at Cambridge University in 2001 and it was registered as a charity in 2003. EWB U.K. had its first overseas placement in 2002 with the Organization for Social and Environment Development (ORSED) in Pondicherry, India, which deals with disaster, water, and waste management.

Since then, Engineers Without Borders volunteers have been working with communities across Africa, Asia, and South America on everything from clean water and sanitation to renewable energy and public building projects. 

The EWB-USA chapters have implemented projects in Africa, Central America, and the United States with one goal in mind: To improve the quality of life for communities in developing countries by creating lasting relationships and empowering communities throughout the world. We can see them in action in the video below. 

Institution of Civil Engineering: Promoting STEM and engineering through annual free exhibitions 

The Institution of Civil Engineering (ICE) awards professional qualifications that are the industry-standard as well as leading the debates around infrastructure and the built environment providing an unmatched level of training, knowledge, and thinking. 

 "Every discipline works together to come up with solutions."

The ICE's Learning and Exhibition Centre showcases the very best of civil engineering and the built environment. For the Institution of Civil Engineering's 200th anniversary, the ICE wanted to celebrate and share with the world the role civil engineers play in transforming lives and safeguarding our future. The Invisible Superheroes exhibition was then created.

Invisible Superheroes: The exhibition


The Institution of Civil Engineering (ICE) first organized the Invisible Superheroes exhibition at the Institution of Civil Engineering in London. After great success, the exhibition is now available for everyone to view online. Invisible Superheroes focused on the not always recognized heroes behind some of the world's most extraordinary engineering projects.

Using state-of-the-art technology, the exhibition was able to bring to life some of the best examples of civil engineering. The Invisible Superheroes exhibition is currently only available to view online here.

Water: From Source to Tap 

In 2020, the Institution of Civil Engineering is offering another free exhibition. Open to the general public, Water: From Source to Tap explores the world of water engineering as well as the challenges faced in providing clean water to billions of people across the world.

"I have discovered that it is possible to try and follow a career in something that’s interesting, fun, meaningful and doesn't involve compromising on things that you care about. There are loads of examples of people who have been involved with EWB longer than me that are doing it right now.” --Andrew Hunt, EWB Brighton Society

The exhibition features the inspiring work of behind-the-scenes engineering heroes, those who fight fatbergs and flooding, the ones who save lives of millions around the world through the provision of clean water and sanitation. 

The exhibition, great for children and youngsters, is packed with videos, interactive content, activities, stories, and stunning examples of real water engineering projects from around the world.

This exhibition is an eye-opener for engineering enthusiasts, families, budding engineering students, and anyone who takes water for granted unknowing that it may be a luxury elixir in some parts of the world. 

The main displays will walk visitors through various engineering projects that help keep Water Infrastructure supported. Visitors can also watch films in the ICE Media Cube, Explore Virtual Reality worlds in addition to interactive content in the interactive units. Surely many will want to have a go at building some Civil Engineering models in the activity zone with Lego and building kits.

The Water: From Source to Tap exhibition runs until December 22, 2020, at the Institution of Civil Engineering in London. Those who can't make it to London don't have to worry. The exhibition can also be viewed online. All the water projects are available to view online here

The exhibition zones include: 

The Smart Infrastructure zone includes a learning path on how civil engineers are using smart technology in order to meet the needs of an ever-growing, urbanizing population which is going to reach nine billion people by 2050. Smart Infrastructure shows how cities around the world must become smarter, more energy-efficient, and how forward-looking engineers are vital to enable a much needed sustainable growth around the world.

Two global main issues are universal access to clean water and combating the effects of climate change. Civil engineers are also working to solve these problems. The Environmental Impact exhibition zone is dedicated to exploring the scale and response to fundamental challenges like providing billions of people with drinking water.

Roads, railways, and airports are integral parts of each journey we take whether we are going to work, visiting friends and family, or just going on an adventure to explore new places. While we enjoyed the travels, civil engineers have helped building the roads, railways, and airports that get us wherever we are going. The Connected Communities exhibition zone is about how ever more communities around the world are getting connected through engineering works.