Writer: Michelle Mason
The student organization Engineers Without Borders is living up to its name. After being denied travel arrangements to Mexico this year, EWBNMSU is not being hindered and has already started community projects on the north side of the border. The group is still planning on traveling abroad, in order to fulfill their goals of community service and outreach across the globe.
Members of EWBNMSU utilize their knowledge, experience and services in engineering to improve the quality of life for developing communities in Mexico and local areas as well.
“The students learn engineering skills, team work, communication skills, life-long learning, how to put a project together, and the importance of quality and timeliness. I can’t think of any one environment or activity that can give as much opportunity as these projects,” Dr. Sonya Cooper, Professor of Engineering Technology and Surveying Engineering, and EWBNMSU co-advisor, said.
“We receive fabulous responses [from the community]. So far, the two projects have been in Satevo, Mexico and they are so gracious,” Cooper said.
Currently EWBNMSU is unable to travel to Mexico due to NMSU not permitting any student travel under University auspices to any countries that have been issued a travel warning by the U.S. Department of State. The U.S. Department of State reissued a travel warning for Mexico on September 10.
“I understand there is a situation in Mexico, but it is hard to tell these people who live there and are dealing with it that we can’t go visit,” Kenly Maldonado, former EWBNMSU President, said. “We are trying to get more funding so that we can travel to another country. So we have a local project for members who won’t be able to travel or afford it. We have three low-budget projects in Anthony.”
The assortment of smaller projects in Anthony, NM, is in partnership with the Colonias Development Council (CDC). EWBNMSU has already visited the community several times addressing a drainage problem. With the help of Gerry Ibarra, owner of Precision Land Surveying, the group surveyed the area to document run-off volumes and will develop solutions for the CDC to consider, amounting to about $ 2,000 worth of engineering work. EWBNMSU also plans on helping the CDC with providing electricity to the community greenhouse and devising a rain catchment and watering system. These projects will take anywhere from 80 to hundred hours of engineering work and labor.
The group is also preparing to travel to Nicaragua later this year in conjunction with Bridges to Prosperity, a charity based organization that helps rural communities build footbridges. EWBNMSU has received some donations from local businesses and will also need to raise more money to send its members to help with the project.
“A group will be sent to help survey the project over Christmas break and then a group will go help build next summer,” Cooper, said.
The group recently finished a project over the past spring break in Ruiz De Ancones, Chihuahua, Mexico. Along with the Organization of Aggies Students Inspiring Sustainability (OASIS) and NMSU Aggies Go Global (AGG), EWBNMSU built a 30-foot deep well to supply the town with clean water.