Engineers Without Borders raises money for future projects

By Mark Kobzik, Contributing Writer

courtesy photo (Front row) Mark Youngstrom, Katie Rocci, Liz Garvey, Joanna Lewis. (Back row) Mrs. Olivares, Jeff Sires, Beto Olivares, Alberto Olivares and Dan Farley. Engineers Without Borders students and Peruvian villagers stand together  during a trip in May 2014.

courtesy photo
(Front row) Mark Youngstrom, Katie Rocci, Liz Garvey, Joanna Lewis. (Back row) Mrs. Olivares, Jeff Sires, Beto Olivares, Alberto Olivares and Dan Farley. Engineers Without Borders students and Peruvian villagers stand together during a trip in May 2014.

The road to San Pedro de Casta, Peru is a perilous one. The route, which allows for one vehicle at a time to travel, brings you to a community of about 1200 people, 10,000 feet up in the Andes Mountains. It is there that the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) team of the University of New Hampshire installed a water pipeline last May.

According to Elizabeth Garvey, a senior and EWB member, for the first time in its isolated existence, San Pedro de Casta no longer needed to live off of agricultural water. In the past, the water has led to malnutrition, e-coli, and other diseases.

The Engineers Without Borders team remembered that when the pipeline was laid, the people of San Pedro de Casta wore their UNH T-shirts and hats they received the year before and helped EWB students with the digging. The pipeline now runs 700 meters from high elevation down to where the citizens live.

“One of the older women in the town started to help and said that she wanted to be remembered as someone who helped bring clean water to the town,” said Robin Collins, professor of environmental engineering and EWB’s advisor. 

EWB wants students to know that the most important part of being a member is looking to help others, being an engineer isn’t completely necessary either. Last May, students majoring in nutrition and environment sciences went to Peru as well. 

“I feel like we have so many resources that other countries don’t have,” Garvey said. “Being able to spread the knowledge that I’ve gotten and help those who aren’t as fortunate as we are, that’s the reason I joined Engineers Without Borders.”

A few years ago, EWB was down to only three or four students, according to Collins,  Since then, it has grown expansively with the last meeting bringing in over 40 students.

Environmental engineering major Daniel Farley attributed the growth to the Peruvian and Ugandan trips.

“People see projects like this and they get excited about the travel and being able to help people, it draws a lot of people in,” he said.

Engineers Without Borders want to spread their message to the UNH community. EWB is excited to raise the necessary funds, which right now are estimated between $9,000-$12,000.

Not long ago, an unnamed UNH alumnus helped raise money with raffle tickets to a Boston Celtics game. It will take initiatives like this to raise the appropriate amount of money. According to Elizabeth Garvey, grant writings and corporate sponsorships will further help EWB reach its goal.

The next trip is planned for winter break 2016. Although the pipeline has been set up, it is still in need of a filtration system.

“I think it’s good to let the people out there know what the students are about and what they like to give,” Collins said. “Make the world a better place and indeed water is one commodity that is essential for life… and we’re making an impact.”