October 15, 2012

Even with a busy course load, more than 150 undergraduate and graduate students use their engineering skills in service projects through the LSU chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

Starting in January 2010, members focus on local and international nonprofit service projects for developing communities, and strive to work with people of various communities to build something sustainable – something the people of the community can use and maintain.

On Saturday, Sept. 15, 17 EWB members participated in the annual Lacombe Beach Sweep picking up litter in and around the Northshore of Bayou Lacombe and the lakefront of Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. Participants were split into two groups – one that hiked and one that canoed.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partners with the Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges, Inc. and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation to clean up waterways and beaches around the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.

EWB members even made it back to Baton Rouge, La., in time for the football game that night.

“We were most excited to be helping out in Louisiana,” said Vice President of EWB Courtney Rourke, a mechanical engineering junior.

This semester, EWB members plan to focus more on local community service projects.

“For me, as a chemical engineering major, it’s nice to get out there and do something different,” said Duyen Nguyen, a senior and the president of EWB. 

In June, EWB members participated in a Habitat for Humanity build in Baton Rouge. They helped build three separate houses that were in different phases of construction and were able to learn about various aspects of the construction process.

“We were really able to see the entire process,” Rourke said. “We didn’t actually know how to build the houses before we started, and it was cool to see it all come together.”

Students not only helped build houses, but they also helped build a sense of community between the neighbors – EWB’s fundamental mission. The families receiving the houses also helped with the projects. Students were able to meet and interact with the families, while the families were able to form friendships with their future neighbors.

Because of the large number of people that signed up for the service project, EWB plans to participate in at least three more Habitat for Humanity builds in November.

EWB members are also working to plan the EWB USA South Central Regional Conference from Oct. 19-21. This is the first time it has ever been held in Louisiana, and it will take place in Patrick F. Taylor Hall at LSU.

At the conference, members from other EWB organizations throughout Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana will meet to collaborate on service project ideas and attend workshops to learn about things such as making concrete and bricks and creating solar power energy. They will also learn about the organization, how to communicate with people in other communities and how to overcome language and cultural barriers.

“You have to learn how to be adaptable and respectful to people in other communities,” Nguyen said.

Engineers Without Borders is an organization that works with underdeveloped international and local communities to provide access to basic human necessities like clean water, reliable electricity, sanitation and education.

To learn more about the LSU chapter of Engineers Without Borders, click here.


Article written by Elise Bernard, communications intern. For more information, contact Cassie Arceneaux, College of Engineering, carcen6@lsu.edu or (225) 578-0092. 

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