EWB-UTA Fall 2021 Newsletter

EWB-UTA Fall 2021 Newsletter

Back to Campus!

In the Fall of 2021, the Engineers Without Borders – The University of Texas at Arlington (EWB-UTA) chapter was able to meet new students in activity fairs and host in-person events. Along with events the chapter held in-person General Body Meetings (GBMs), connected with the EWB North Texas professional chapter and helped with their Bolivia water project. The chapter met with EWB professionals who are now mentoring the chapter towards the chapter’s first international project!

Volunteering

Trash Bash: The first event the chapter participated in this fall, was the annual Trash Bash that is put on by Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) to clean along the Trinity River. A team of EWB – UTA students walked Quanah Parker Park and collected bags full of litter. 

Habitat for Humanity: The chapter worked with Habitat for Humanity three times during the fall semester! The first was the Cowtown Brush Up which is a single day event where 50 houses are brightened up with a fresh coat of paint. A majority of the residents of these houses are elderly and have a fixed income. Over ten students showed up for the event and did quick work of painting up the house. The other two events with Habitat for Humanity were build days where a team of around ten students volunteered at each event to put up siding on a house that Habitat for Humanity was building for a new home owner. These events are always hard work, but the students get to get their hands dirty and help out while sharing the experience with each other!

Bag Weaving: The chapter reached out to Sarah’s Bag Ladies to see how we could help. They are a group who collect plastic bags and repurpose them by weaving them into mats for homeless people to sleep on. As a chapter we collected plastic bags and hosted an event to cut the bags and begin the weaving process. We did what we could in three hours and delivered the bags and started mats to Sarah’s Bag Ladies. It was a learning curve to weave the bags, but it was a lot of fun! At this event Sadie Kleman from Engineers In Action (EIA) presented to us about her internship with EIA. Talking with Sadie got the chapter excited about international community projects.

Meetings

Three GBMs were hosted on campus happening on the third Monday of each month. During the first meeting we presented what EWB is all about and had a project where all of the students were able to create a water filter using just a coffee filter, sand, cotton balls and rocks. The filters can be seen in pictures below. We all had a good time trying to make the dirty water as clean as possible. At the second GBM, Matt Craig from North Texas visited and presented on the Bolivia water project that the North Texas Professional Chapter is actively working on. The student chapter was able to see what a project looks like and the effect it can have on a community. A Red Cross representative spoke at the final GBM of the semester on the Red Cross Disaster team and the work that the team does for communities world wide. At the end of the semester EWB-UTA hosted an End of the Year Social and played games and got to celebrate the end of the semester!

EWB North Texas and Mentors

This fall the leadership of EWB-UTA attended EWB North Texas Professional Chapter (EWB-NTX) meetings to learn about the chapter and connect with the professionals. The professionals were a great help to the chapter and suggested ways for the student chapter to get more involved.The student chapter was able to help confirm some calculations and create a drawing for EWB-NTX’s community in Bolivia. This was a wonderful opportunity for the students to be part of the design stage of the project. At the bag weaving event, Matt Craig connected the student chapter with Sadie Kleman who presented to EWB-UTA about Engineers In Action. After listening to Sadie’s presentation, we asked her if she would be willing to mentor our student chapter. She agreed and has been very helpful in encouraging the team to take the next step searching for an international project. Below is a picture of some of us at the North Texas winter social.

International Project!

With help from Sadie and EWB-NTX, the chapter leadership has been looking at international projects and plans to vote on a project in the spring and have an application submitted for a project by the end of the spring semester! We are looking forward to beginning the journey of working with an international community. 

Sincerely,

The EWB-UTA 2021-2022 Officer Team

Spring 2021 Newsletter

The Fall 2020 semester was a busy one for Engineers Without Borders UTA! Between Covid-19 and the winter storm that occurred in February 2021, hosting events virtually and in-person was difficult. However, our members were still excited to be involved and showed their interest in getting involved with our Project Team and volunteer activities. Despite hardships, EWB-UTA was still able to hold two General Body Meetings, officer voting, and two volunteer events. 

The most visible way in which EWB-UTA was active this semester was through the volunteer events that we were able to participate in. The first was a clothing drive which was held jointly with several other UTA student organizations, including the UTA American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Chapter. The second volunteer activity was a site that EWB-UTA was able to run through The Big Event, which is a UTA volunteering event which splits volunteers into several ‘sites’ throughout the community to do different types of community service. EWB-UTA volunteers helped to pick up trash from around a creek in Arlington. It was a lot of fun to be able to hang out with each other and give back to the community.

EWB-UTA’s first General Body Meeting consisted of a short overview of what Engineers Without Borders is all about, some of our upcoming events, ways to get involved, and then some online games for people who attended the GBM to be able to hang out and get to know each other. We had fun splitting up into two groups to play Skribbl.io or have a fun Kahoot session. For our second General Body Meeting, Dr. Kathleen Smits presented a brief overview of her research efforts, which aim to assist small communities in developing communities to overcome the economic, health, and environmental concerns associated with small-scale regional gold mining, often called Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM).  Dr. Smits gave a description of her research, how it ties to the mission Engineers Without Borders, and how any interested students can get involved. More information about Dr. Smits research can be found here: https://smitshydrolab.uta.edu/

Throughout Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, the EWB-UTA Project Team worked on a Mock Project to gain experience and learn about the EWB international process. With the Covid-19 precautions and travel restrictions in place, we felt this would be a great opportunity to expose members to the EWB project format and prepare them for future projects in their degree paths. The Mock Project was based around installing solar panels and batteries to serve as a backup to first responder stations in Puerto Rico. Communication is essential during an emergency, and such a project would go a long way to ensuring that first responders’ communication is not hindered by any electrical outages, as they were during Hurricane Maria. The project team met during the semester to go through EWB resources and project requirements in order to accurately design and scope out this mock project. Sub-groups were created within the project team to divide up the work and research project requirements and details. 

Overall, despite Covid-19 changing the landscape of what is possible for student organizations, the EWB-UTA team worked hard on improving the quality of life in the community around us and encouraging students around us as much as possible. 

Personally, It was an honor to serve with the 2020-2021 EWB-UTA officer team, and I am proud of all that they accomplished over the past year. I have high hopes for the incoming officer team, and know that they can accomplish a lot in the coming school year. Thank you for your support, EWB-UTA would not be possible without it. The new officer team is looking forward to more volunteer activities, securing corporate sponsorships, and in-person activities being possible for the coming school year.

Sincerely,

The EWB-UTA 2020-2021 Officer Team

Summer 2020 Newsletter

The Engineers Without Borders University of Texas at Arlington chapter has been hard at work this summer! The evidence is all around you: this newsletter, the first of its kind, and however you are reading it, either through our website or from an email, those are new additions to EWB-UTA too. In addition to obvious and visual developments like the website, a lot of behind-the-scenes work has been taking place. For one, EWB-UTA has increased adoption of Volunteer Village (EWB-USA’s online portal for chapter operations), and is laying the foundation for a project. This newsletter is a summary of our challenges and accomplishments over the summer.

Leadership Team

The very first change to occur during the summer break (or right beforehand) was the switching of our leadership. Our new officer team, mostly composed of people who were also officers last year, is passionate, competent, and very communicative, so I am sure that we will be able to accomplish our goals together. We have already had three meetings in the summer, talking about fundraising and plans for the summer, fall and beyond.

Recruitment

One of the main areas of focus during the summer was attracting new members. UTA’s orientations were held online this year, and the activity fairs that allowed organizations to talk to incoming students were held weekly through Zoom calls. Even though we had 1-2 officers host our Zoom call each week, the turnout was unfortunately lower than expected, a concern that was shared by many organizations. We had also discussed how to talk to students in the introduction to engineering class (ENGR 1250) or through each engineering major’s introduction class, both of which will hopefully happen during the fall. During the last week of summer, we filmed a video with Scott, Kristen, and Professor Zaretsky; this video will be instrumental in advertising EWB-UTA through intro classes and other means instead of the in-person methods we are used to doing. You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktaLYmKbS_k 

Funding

One of EWB-UTA’s largest goals is to eventually have the opportunity to plan and execute a project abroad. For this and other chapter operations to succeed, funding is crucial. Because of that, a lot of attention was placed on fundraising during the summer. As a preliminary step, all of the officers wrote support letters to send out to friends and family. So far, the response from these support letters has been outstanding, and we met our $1,000 goal slightly after the start of the semester. To those who donated: thank you again! We are extremely appreciative and would love to keep you in the loop of what our chapter does with your generous donations. During the fall semester, we plan to focus on getting corporate sponsorships from local engineering companies and businesses.

Planning and Mock Project

The other main thing that we took time to do during the summer break was to plan out what the fall semester would look like for EWB. Obviously, this semester looks much different than any semester beforehand, and there was limited information about what we would be allowed or not allowed come fall from UTA. We made plans assuming best and worst case scenarios, figured out how to host online meetings effectively in an era where the last thing students will want is another online meeting, and we came up withevents that will be possible, useful, and engaging in an online setting. Having online portals for students to find us more important than ever, and we have been hard at work creating a website, updating our UTA organization page (which allows students to find us easily), and becoming more active on Instagram.

Lastly, we also decided to start a mock project in the fall – something that will give us real project experience, real design knowledge and experience, but something that will be fully possible online and will be low risk to us as a very new EWB chapter. This way we can best advertise our chapter to corporate sponsors, and effectively use those sponsored funds for a real project.

Overall, the summer of 2020 has been very busy for the officers of EWB-UTA. We attracted new members, raised funds through support letters, and planned what the fall would look like for our club and for our members. Without the support of you, reading this newsletter and supporting both our club and our officers, this would not be possible or effective. So for your past and continued support, I thank each and every one of you. I hope that you continue to be interested in our progress, and until next time, stay safe and healthy!

Sincerely,

The EWB-UTA 2020-2021 Officer Team