Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Engineers Without Borders: Students Earn Social Justice Awards

The Dartmouth chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) was among eight organizations and individuals honored with the College’s 2006 Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award. The award, presented January 27, recognizes members of the community who have demonstrated compassion, perseverance, courage, and leadership.

EWB designed and installed a machine-dug well and solar pump in Nyamilu, Kenya last summer to provide the village with clean water for drinking and irrigation.

Murnen, left, and Hansen.  Photograph by Joseph Mehling '69.
Murnen, left, and Hansen. Photograph by Joseph Mehling '69.

EWB co-chairs Tia Hansen ’05, Th’06 and Hannah Murnen ’06, Th’07 accepted the award for the organization. Both say participating in EWB has influenced their career aspirations.

“It made me realize what a positive impact small engineering projects can have in the developing world,” Hansen says. Drawn to renewable energy technology, especially solar power, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering with a focus on renewable energy resources.

Murnen is also considering a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and wants to research ways to harness solar and wind power that could be used in developing countries. She says it would be gratifying to work in countries that are not already dependent on petroleum because those countries can still avoid eventual reliance on fossil fuels.

According to Murnen, Dartmouth’s EWB has a proven formula for success: taking on simple projects that students can plan, execute, and oversee themselves. Although Hurricane Katrina prompted EWB to consider taking on projects within the United States, Murnen says, international projects seemed to yield the best results and help people meet their most basic needs. “In the U.S., engineering tends to be more sophisticated,” she says. “By going international, we allow ourselves to really contribute to the engineering, not just the grunt work.”

After the success of its Kenya project, EWB no longer has to look around for its next project because suggestions are rolling in. A group member recently traveled to San Fidel, El Salvador to study the feasibility of a water project proposed by Kiva Wilson ’04, a Peace Corps volunteer there. The group is also considering a follow-up project in Kenya.

For more photos, visit our Dartmouth HELP Worldwide collection on Flickr.

Categories: The Great Hall, Engineers Without Borders

Tags: award, energy, humanitarian service, international, leadership, students

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