Engineers Without Borders Featured in Local Magazine

In the Fiesta 2008 issue of Prince George’s County Suite magazine, Engineer’s Without Borders (EWB) was featured in a two page spread. Suite magazine is described as a, “lifestyle magazine, whose mission is to shed light on the best and brightest in the county and to offer positive lifestyle options to those who live, work, and play in the region. Launched in 2005, the magazine reaches around 100,000 readers in the Washington DC metropolitan area.”

Started at the University of Maryland in 2004, Engineers Without Borders is a national organization that was established in April 2000 at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Over 70 chapters now exist, and each year they travel to foreign countries to implement engineering solutions in indigent villages. The organization describes its mission as a partnership with disadvantaged communities designed to improve their quality of life through the implementation of environmentally and economically sustainable engineering projects, while developing internationally responsible engineering students.

The trip featured in Suite magazine was in regard to University of Maryland graduate students and faculty installing solar panels in the West African country, Burkina Faso. While there, the group of six, three professors (ME Professors J.H. Kim and E. Smela included) and three students, installed donated solar panels and indoor lighting in an adult education center. Due to the high cost of solar panels, rural villages cannot usually afford them. Yet, a donation of 14 panels from BP Solar in Frederick, Maryland, allowed the team to continue with the project. A second phase, which began in summer 2007, integrated the panels into a system that recharges portable lanterns. Plans for future development projects in Burkina Faso will incorporate the newly installed panels.

Being recognized in a community magazine confirms that the University’s hard work is appreciated. Students and professors spend large amounts of time prepping and then implementing their designs, thus having the community acknowledge their efforts is gratifying, not only for the students, but for the school as well. “It is wonderful that EWB-UMD's work is being recognized outside of the UMD community,” says Dr. Jungho Kim, the senior advisor to Engineers Without Borders, “we hope it sets an example and inspires the broader community to take some tangible steps to address some of the problems we face.” Initiating the article was Fitzgerald “Fitz” Walker, the mechanical engineering department Graduate Studies Coordinator. Acting as a liaison between the University and Suite magazine, Walker provided student and faculty quotes and helped with some of the research.

For more information on the Engineer’s Without Border’s organization visit the national website at or the University of Maryland’s website at

--Lauren Frye, Mechanical Engineering Student Reporter

Published November 21, 2008