Engineers Without Borders create sustainable technology to improve Third World countries

Engineers Without Borders visited Mexico last summer.

Engineers Without Borders visited Mexico last summer.

Students in NIU’s Engineers Without Borders organization are dedicated to making the world a better place by bringing sustainable First World technologies to Third World countries.

“To make a technology sustainable, it has to be simple and easily maintained. For example, when you want to help a Third World country with farming, you can’t give them a tractor. They can’t afford to fix it or fill it with gas,” EWB President Josh Ott says.

“Instead, we bring simple technologies that can be maintained and repaired in the Third World settings. We also provide training on the technologies, so once we leave, the community is able to do maintenance, build new systems and spread the technology without us having to help.”

EWB is in the midst of several sustainability projects including the improvement of the water filtration systems in Mexico.

Members have partnered with iCatis (International Centers for Appropriate Technology and Indigenous Sustainability) to come up with a system that can be built in villages in Mexico. Students already tested water quality, and will continue with this project the week after final exams. This effort, funded by Omron, will help provide clean water not only to these villages in Mexico, but others around the world.

EWB also will travel to Nyegina, Tanzania, in August as they come to the end of a five-year contract. NIU students have been working with a coed school of 600 students to improve lighting in classrooms and libraries and increased kitchen efficiency by installing a solar hot water cook stove. This time, they will be lighting more classrooms to allow for students to study even after it gets dark outside.

Engineers Without Borders: water filtration in Africa (January 2012). Ott is second from the right in the front row.

Engineers Without Borders: water filtration in Africa (January 2012). Ott is second from the right in the front row.

Other projects include working with junior high students on a solar car race and exploring other sustainable technologies for Third World countries.

For more information, email joshaott@gmail.com or ewbniuprojectlead@gmail.com.

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