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Ewb^2 Engineers Without Borders: Educationally, A World Of Benefits

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Project-Based Service Learning

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.597.1 - 14.597.23



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Paper Authors


Beverly Jaeger Northeastern University

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Beverly K. Jaeger, PhD is a member of Northeastern Universit⁹s Gateway Team, a select group of full-time faculty devoted to the First-year Engineering Program at Northeastern University (NU). While she concentrates on first-year engineering courses and instructs across all engineering disciplines, Dr. Jaeger also teaches specialty courses in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at NU in Digital Simulation, Facilities Planning, and Human-Machine Systems.

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Ethan LaRochelle Northeastern University

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Ethan LaRochelle is a senior electrical engineering major at Northeastern University. He has been involved with Engineers Without Borders since 2005 and was president of the NU student chapter from 2006 through 2008. Ethan has traveled with the group to the Yoro District of Honduras three times. In this time the group has partnered with a number of villages to improve the reliability of their water distribution systems.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

EWB2 - Engineers Without Borders: Educationally, a World of Benefits Beverly K. Jaeger and Ethan Phillip M. LaRochelle, Northeastern University

Abstract Community partnerships comprise a core aspect of the Engineers Without Borders–USA (EWB- USA) mission. Since its inception in 2000 as a single chapter at the University of Colorado at Boulder, EWB-USA has grown to incorporate well over 250 chapters working with communities in 43 developing countries. This is largely through the efforts of young engineering students and their mentors. The overarching mission of EWB is primarily to provide support for communities in the developing world, by applying a broad range of engineering principles to generate sustainable solutions in challenging settings. Examples of a few past projects are water sanitation systems, solar electrification, and compost sites converting waste into usable energy.

The projects in which EWB chapters participate provide thousands of engineering students with the opportunity to develop their skills and experience the global impact they can make through their service. As noted, the effect that EWB programs have on partnering communities has been well-established and documented. In contrast, very little assessment has been undertaken to consider whether the experience of generating sustainable engineering solutions for developing communities has an equally significant effect on many of the participating engineering students as well.

A survey instrument was developed at Northeastern University and administered to EWB chapter members to quantify the student-centered impact of involvement in the organization’s programs. This first-phase research found that involvement in the EWB organization yielded the following notable outcomes: over 80% of respondents reported that they developed a greater appreciation for other cultures, nearly 80% indicated it taught them a stronger appreciation for teamwork, and over 75% attested to an increased awareness of the role of ethics and personal responsibility in engineering. In the second phase of this project, a more extensive web-based survey instrument was then developed building on these results and extending the inquiry to a more national demographic. This work also yielded encouraging results in terms of further quantifying (1) individual benefits for volunteer participants and (2) identifying areas for academic programs to partner with EWB programs and participants in the most productive way. In this work, these results are used in conjunction with existing models for experiential-based global education to support strengthening the affiliation between EWB programs and engineering curricula as a positive and enduring pedagogical innovation.

Therefore, this paper builds on the original first-phase EWB survey and primarily focuses on presenting the findings collected from the more recent second-phase survey of EWB-USA members to help identify the academic benefits that can be derived from EWB service. Metrics of the benefits of implementing international service projects will be discussed. In light of the domestic educational advantages, further comparisons are made across multiple university curricula focusing on the outcomes of exposing engineering students to global education.

Jaeger, B., & LaRochelle, E. (2009, June), Ewb^2 Engineers Without Borders: Educationally, A World Of Benefits Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4961

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