Engineers Without Borders (UVM)

Try to imagine life without the guarantee of sanitary water and medical care, and you'll understand why UVM students are engaged in creating solutions for communities in developing countries. These efforts are improving the quality of life for thousands through environmentally and economically sustainable engineering projects.

The UVM chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is one of over 200 developing and established chapters involved in over 170 projects in 41 countries.

Chapter member surveying in Jardines, Honduras at the site of the proposed slow sand filterEWB-UVM has partnered with the Community Development and Applied Economics (CDAE) department at UVM and Dr. Dan Baker to work on creating more efficient ovens for over 1,000 small-scale Honduran farmers. Without such stoves, farmers will burn rubber tires for fuel as deforestation drives up wood prices.

Baker has also been working with Honduran farmers for more than seven years on the design and transfer of a more efficient sugarcane evaporator. Respiratory disease is a significant and persistent health issue in these communities, yet there is very limited data on the extent or effects of particle emissions from different evaporators using different fuels. The UVM EWB is investigating alternative oven designs and is testing particle emissions and alternate fuels.

Recently EWB-UVM and CDAE have been involved with developing community water systems in the small communities of Jaitique and Jardines, Honduras. Currently the club is beginning the design of a slow sand filter and roughing filter to supplement the current water system in the community of Jardines. Water quality data and topographic data were collected this past May by chapter members and CDAE students. Both the sugar project and water systems projects have offered opportunities to integrate community development and engineering perspectives in the effort to promote sustainable development in Honduras.

Both projects are currently being funded through club fundraising efforts, the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS), and the Student Government Association. Faculty and advisor support includes Dr. Britt Holmen, Dr. Arne Bomblies, Dr. Dan Baker, and Peter Degraff, PE, president of the EWB-VT Professional Chapter. The club is also fortunate to receive support from local engineers at IBM and the professional chapter.

To join EWB or obtain more information, contact Abigail Franklin at acfrankl@uvm.edu. Abigail Franklin is president of the UVM EWB Student Chapter and currently a junior in the School of Engineering.