Engineers Without Borders: creating long-lasting solutions to problems in international communities!

My name is Alexis and I am a senior studying Chemical Engineering. I have been a member of Engineers Without Borders since the fall of my freshman year and I truly believe my college experience would not have been the same if I had not joined this team. EWB has been instrumental in helping me grow into the person I am today.

Members of Engineers without Borders in Tanzania with community members.

Before I came to Cornell, I was super involved in international community service and I wanted to continue this passion into my college years. When I talked to members of EWB, I immediately realized this was the place for me. I wanted to use my engineering skills and knowledge to help others around the world and being part of this incredible group of people would allow me to pursue this passion. At the time, I could have never predicted what incredible actually meant and how much this group would offer me. EWB is incredible because of the people. Incredibly kind, smart, passionate, and diverse. It is a group that works together to not only help global and domestic communities but to help each other grow professional, academic, and personally to become the best they can be.

For the past 4 years, I have been a member of our Tanzania project team. Our team’s project is to install a water irrigation system on the west coast of Tanzania to increase the local community’s agricultural output. As a freshman I was selected to travel to Tanzania, which was an amazing opportunity and an experience I will never forget. It was hands on learning, and I had to pick up on skills in a short period of time, but luckily, I was surrounded by the best team members I could have asked for. I met one of my best friends on that trip; she was a junior at the time. I was initially somewhat intimidated by her and we didn’t talk much during my freshman fall, but when we traveled together in the spring semester, all our similarities came to light. She acted as a friend and mentor to me on that trip and ever since. From recommending classes to interview preparation and even helping me find housing in the same city as her post-graduation, she has been someone I could rely on for advice. When I returned from Tanzania I remember reflecting on my trip and realizing what I really had learned was how to learn, what questions to ask and how to form relationships with people, whether that be the Tanzanian community members or my own teammates. I now realize the value in those skills.

Members of Engineers without Borders in Tanzania with community members.

My role on the Tanzania team has developed over my time. I even had the opportunity to lead the Tanzania project for a year and I am proud of all our work, especially considering the challenges we have had to overcome. I now have feelings of excitement and nostalgia as our project moves into the implementation phase right at the time of my graduation. I have poured much of my heart into this project and this team. I am proud of what we have accomplished, excited to see where we go and I hope one day you will be able to look back on your college experience and say the same.

~Alexis, chemical engineering