Engineers Without Borders

Fall Semester 2014 Newsletter

Engineers Without Borders-Cornell

Composed of 28 hardworking and motivated students, Engineers Without Borders-Cornell focuses on uniting these students’ varied strengths to make a global impact through sustainable engineering projects. Our current project is a partnership with a community in Calcha, Bolivia. We are designing a system to treat a community’s contaminated water and assessing a solution to their lack of access to agriculture. In order to meet the needs of our project, we are participating and accepting donations through the annual Year-End-Giving Campaign which is highlighted at the end of this newsletter.

Pictures from Summer Assessment Trip

Summer Assessment Trip

Thanks to the support of Cornell University, corporate sponsors, and friends and families, EWB-Cornell sent 7 students to Calcha, Bolivia this summer for its first assessment trip! EWB-Cornell traveled to Calcha for approximately ten days, during which the travel team gained a better understanding of the community’s everyday lifestyle and problems. The team's goal was to assess the feasibility of implementing a sustainable water project. Originally, the community’s main concerns revolved around personal and agricultural water use. The community was unsatisfied with the amount of clean water that it had for personal use, especially in the dry season when the land is parched. However, after interviewing many community members, the team realized that the town was also having difficulties in maintaining its farmlands. The team discovered that Calcha's economy, which is heavily dependent on agriculture, was suffering because many of Calcha's farmlands are located on the opposite side of the river and are inaccessible for care and harvesting in the wet season when there is severe flooding. To combat these problems, the team decided to determine the feasibility of a bridge project in addition to a water project. As a result, many water samples were collected from multiple water sources and tested in the CIMA lab in Potosi, Bolivia. Soil samples were also gathered and brought back to Cornell University for testing, and possible bridge locations were measured and recorded for further design analysis. Overall, EWB-Cornell's first assessment trip was a success as the travel team formed a strong relationship with the community members.

Fall 2014 Recruitment

Our EWB-Cornell chapter consists of undergraduate and graduate students, professors, and faculty in the College of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and College of Human Ecology. Our members derive from a variety of studies including mechanical engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, biological and environmental engineering, materials science and engineering, and operations research. This year, our team recruited 13 new members, who have been exceptional additions to the team. Currently, EWB consists of three subteams: the Water Subteam, the Bridge Subteam, and the Business Subteam, each of which works diligently towards our projects in Calcha, Bolivia in their respective realms. We are currently 28 members, strong and growing, and we hope to diversify and recruit more members as the team expands in the coming years.

Say Hello to Our New Subteams!

Water Subteam

The goal for the Water Subteam is to thoroughly prepare for our second technical assessment trip. This semester, the team analyzed the general assessment trip data and developed a list of possible solutions that address the water supply and quality problems that the Calcha Community is facing. The solution we aim to implement will serve to increase the community’s water supply and provide the community with a clean source of water. Each possible solution, such as constructing a storage tank or implementing a rainwater catchment system, has been researched to determine the feasibility of implementation. We have also read about other EWB projects to understand the successes and failures of past water supply projects and get a better idea on the diversity of projects currently being implemented. In addition, our team has maintained contact with our liaisons, Engineers In Action, in Bolivia to continue to collect updated information about the Calcha community. Our plan for the next semester is to finish planning for the second assessment trip. With each possible solution we have developed, more technical data will be needed to prepare for the implementation of the final water project. Therefore, a detailed list of necessary technical data and training sessions to understand the process of data collection will be accomplished by the end of next semester.

Bridge Subteam

This semester, the Bridge Subteam has been researching different options. The team is learning what needs to considered when designing a bridge and determining what is feasible, cost effective, and sustainable. Two of the bridges the team researched are the suspended and suspension bridges. The team is also gathering a list of questions for EIA and the community. They are also determining what information they need to collect in order to design a bridge. Additionally, the team contacted other EWB chapters who have complete a bridge project to ask for advice. The team wanted to learn what worked well, what didn't, and what they wish they knew at the beginning of their projects. The goal of this is to help us better prepare for our project so that it will be a success.

Business Subteam

The Business Subteam has developed cover letters, flyers, and sponsorship packets to seek donations and support from corporate sponsors and alumni. With the help of sponsors and alumni, EWB is hoping to generate funds to support project implementation for Bolivia. As the team is designing a water purification system, as well as a bridge to augment and improve agriculture in Bolivia, the team is looking for funds for supplies, travel costs, and travel stays for the team members. EWB is very thankful and appreciative of all of the donations and how large of an impact the sponsors are making by donating. The funds will not only allow us to learn about how EWB can engineer environmental solutions, but also will allow EWB to make a difference in the world.

Curious About Our Future Plans? Read On!

Second Assessment Trip vs. Implementation Trip

Through out the semester, as our team worked on the bridge design and the water supply project, we realized that additional technical data was needed to proceed with both the implementation of the bridge and to provide clean water to Calcha. Initially, our team hoped that one assessment trip would suffice to be prepared for an implementation trip. However, like many EWB teams, we encountered a more complex situation than we anticipated and could plan for before the first trip. Our project grew from what we initially thought was a drinking water treatment project to building a bridge and providing an adequate supply of clean water for use in agriculture and drinking water. We think it would be best to return to Bolivia to gain more technical data so that our team can properly design these sustainable projects in Calcha. We hope to send a few team members to travel in June or August to prepare us for construction of the bridge during winter break the next school year. One of the major challenges with this plan is raising enough capital to be able complete the second assessment trip and to implement the bridge by the end of 2015. However, with the help of generous donors, we are determined to raise enough funds to both help the people of Calcha and enrich our engineering education.

Fundraisers Galore!

Fundraisers are important for many reasons beyond raising money such as giving members the opportunity to develop leadership skills, raising awareness of the organization on campus, and uniting members on the fundraising committee. So, it's no surprise that EWB-Cornell has participated in many fundraising events this semester!


We kicked off the year with our "Walking Nachos" fundraiser, which allowed students on campus to add toppings normally found on nachos into a bag of chips of their choice. This successful fundraiser helped EWB-Cornell interact with the Cornell community. EWB-Cornell also partnered with Insomnia Cookies located in Collegetown for another Donation Day. On this day, Insomnia Cookies donates a certain percentage of its sales to EWB-Cornell's cause. Our friends and fellow students enjoyed purchasing and eating delicious cookies while contributing to a great cause! Finally, EWB-Cornell organized "Holiday Candy Gram Fundraiser" which gave students living on North and West Campus the chance to show their friends how much they love them by purchasing a candy cane decorated with ribbons and a note. With just an extra dollar, EWB-Cornell's members delivered the candy canes to the recipients as a surprise. This fundraiser was a success because... well, who doesn't love sending and receiving candy canes?!


In the near future, EWB-Cornell will be participating in the Year-End-Giving Campaign (information below), and we hope to raise money by kindly asking you--our alumni, family and friends--for monetary support. Next semester, we will be hosting our annual "Ice Skating Fundraiser" as well as a 5K Walk/Run that will be held in the Spring and open to Ithaca's general community.

How Can You Help???

'Tis the Season of Giving!

Throughout November, December, and January, EWB-USA is holding its largest fundraiser of the year, an online giving campaign to receive donations from individuals and corporate sponsors. EWB-Cornell is participating in this campaign with the help of members friends, families and the Cornell community. The funds raised by the campaign will help to cut the cost of sending students to Bolivia for the implementation of the bridge and water purification system. We are grateful for the ongoing support from our friends, family and the Cornell community! Let's go EWB and let's go Big Red!

Thank You for Your Continued Support!!! Happy Holidays!