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.
The EWB-UTA 2020-2021 Officer Team