NC State Engineers Without Borders Student Chapter Initiative


Picture of engineers without borders working on a renewable energy project.NC State University’s student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is implementing a participatory development project for a renewable energy photovoltaic (PV) system that will help provide reliable, renewable electricity to a school serving the educational needs of 700 K-12 children in Lower Allentown, Sierra Leone. This renewable energy project is an opportunity for NC State students to receive international exposure while gaining essential experience in the engineering design process and project management. In 2013-14, this project involved four faculty members, two graduate students, and 25 undergraduate EWB members (of a total of 60 chapter members). In June 2014, five students and one professional mentor traveled to Sierra Leone, installed the solar PV system, trained maintenance technicians, and provided STEM based education materials to the school. For 2014-15, the NC State EWB chapter intends to pursue a water supply system project for this school to complement the 2013-14 project on renewable energy. Their proposed system would be designed to meet the school’s drinking water and sanitation needs, with an additional public tap and future well phases intended to support the surrounding community. While the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has placed implementation efforts for the PV system on hold temporarily, the renewable energy project and first phase of the water systems project are ready to be implemented as soon as travel to Sierra Leone is permitted, and the NCSU EWB chapter remains more committed than ever to supporting the Lower Allentown community.