Engineers Without Borders holds 5K fundraiser

Engineers Without Borders (EWB), an interdisciplinary group of engineers and liberal arts students, this past Saturday morning held a five kilometer (5K) run/walk to raise money for the group’s sustainable development projects in El Salvador and Uganda.

Starting at 10 a.m., participants from both the Tufts community and the Medford/Somerville area looped around campus, starting and ending at Ellis Oval.

According to Brooke Schuman, co-president of EWB, this was the second time Engineers Without Borders planned the 5K fundraiser, but the first time they were actually able to host it.

“We had wanted to do this event last year and planned to hold it, but had to cancel it last minute because of the events following the marathon last year,” Schuman, a senior, said. “We are calling this the second annual [5K], but it is actually the first time we [have held it].” 

EWB co-president senior Jesse Cohen explained that the group held the fundraiser to both increase awareness of the organization and to help raise money for travel expenses and materials for projects.

Schuman added that EWB’s recent projects seek to increase access to potable water.

“Communities have problems with long times to wait for water and that the water isn’t clean,” she said. “So [EWB] students themselves design projects, with the help of professorial mentors, and then we go as a student team and implement them.”

Alyssa Le, an EWB fundraising chair, added that the group displayed posters and performed demonstrations at the event in order to inform participants about the water-based engineering projects that EWB has developed.

“We are hoping to build awareness about not just the idea of no access to clean water, but also the fact that once they have their water, these people need to move large volumes of it,” Le, a senior, said.

According to Le, the group hopes to raise $8,000 this semester, which will cover airfare, lodging, ground expenses and materials for the teams of students who travel to Uganda or El Salvador to work on the projects. The majority of money raised for the trip comes from grants and donors.

“Aside from providing solutions to communities, another big goal for us is exposure for students,” she said. “We try [to] allow people to travel to the communities and be a part of the design and implementation process regardless of their particular financial situation. That means we have to fundraise a lot of money.”

In addition to this year’s 5K, Schuman said EWB traditionally holds two other main fundraising events:  basketball and soccer tournaments.

“We hold a three on three basketball tournament in the fall, and then this spring we did an indoor soccer tournament,” she said. “Those are our two other main fundraisers, but last fall we co-hosted a global health themed Trivia Night with GlobeMed, and that was really successful. A lot of people came out for that, and it was really fun.”

Schuman added that the overall mission and process of EWB fit the ideal of the Tufts global citizenship mindset.

“I think that EWB is a great model for how students can get involved in sustainable development,” she said. “I personally believe the model that our projects follow is really successful, and the way we do engineering projects to help the community is really worthwhile.”

According to Cohen, EWB often encounters obstacles while implementing their projects – problems that give members real-world experience.

“I really enjoy the types of problems that we solve with Engineers Without Borders because they are real problems,” he said. “They are not textbook problems. They do not have textbook solutions.”

According to Le, EWB plans to make the 5K an annual fundraiser.

“We are hoping it will become an annual event after this, and will be a bigger fundraiser,” she said.

Schuman also hopes the event will grow in future years, although this year’s event was a success overall.

“I think the event went very well,” Schuman told the Daily in an email. “We had good turnout of runners and walkers, and pretty good weather, all things considered. We made several hundred dollars for our projects, which is great. Next year, we’d love to have an event with even more runners and walkers.”