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Engineers Without Borders Student Chapter’s Experience at the 2018 Engineers Without Borders USA National Conference


Posted 11/29/2018
Submitted by Stephanie Fengler
Category: Campus Announcements, Student Announcements

Four CETA students who are members of the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Student Chapter here at the University of Hartford had the opportunity to travel to California earlier this month for the 2018 Engineers Without Borders (EWB) USA Conference.

These students included Computer Engineering major Kaleigh McGuirl ’19, Civil Engineering major Matthew Garneau ’19, Electrical Engineering major Griffin Shepherd ‘19, and Biomedical Engineering major Yasmin Albur ’21.

Matt, Kaleigh and Yasmin are on the eBoard for the EWB Student Chapter and have the positions of President, Secretary, and Public Relations, respectively. The students have also been on travel teams to India and Griffin, in particular, has also traveled to Kenya with Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering David Pines.

Kaleigh was kind enough to share more about their experience attending the conference.

How did you learn about the conference and what were you hoping to get out of attending?

A conversation between the eBoard and Professor Pines sparked the idea of attending the conference. The EWB Student Chapter found it would be a great opportunity for the students to attend because of the level of networking and resources available at the conference.

“We could potentially meet people to help with projects or provide us with ideas for potential new projects,” said Kaleigh.

The conference would also be a great opportunity for the students to grow their own chapter here at the university based on what other schools are doing. The goal with many student organizations is to continue to grow involvement as students’ move on and graduate. Kaleigh was thrilled to share they were able to bring home some takeaways from other schools to encourage more CETA students to get involved with their organization on campus. 

“The conference allowed the students to see how other groups make their decisions for their chapters’ projects (student and professional),” said Kaleigh. “We also could attend many sessions to discuss retention with other student chapters and what their school club does on campus to help keep students interested in our chapter at the University of Hartford.”

How did this conference tie back to your major and what you’ve learned at the University of Hartford?

Being a Computer Engineering major, there were a few topics that Kaleigh thoroughly enjoyed, including the Energy Challenges in the Developing World and Monitoring and Evaluation Techniques for Energy Systems.

“While there were only a few topics that didn’t revolve around civil engineering concepts, it’s still important to understand that if you want to have a pump for a well, for example, you’re still going to need some type of power systems connected to it,” said Kaleigh. “This is where electrical and computer engineers can work together to calculate and develop a system that fits what you’re trying to use the system for.”

Kaleigh was also able to reflect on what else she took from the conference. “I was able to take a look and listen to some of the projects that professional and student chapters have done as well as hear speeches about what it was like when the NGO first began,” said Kaleigh. “It was interesting to hear how many years that some people have been members, giving me a sense of hope that Engineers Without Borders continues to grow as an organization year after year because of its impact on individual lives.”

Would you recommend other CETA students attend this conference and others?

Kaleigh shared she would definitely recommend students from CETA to attend future EWB USA Conferences. It was not only a great experience for the students who went this month, but also allowed their organization, CETA, and the University of Hartford to be represented at the conference. The students connected with many professionals from various industries as well as other students from other colleges and universities who “also shared the same dedication for the work that EWB is capable of accomplishing every year” as Kaleigh described.

“I would recommend students to attend especially if they have the initiative and desire to help on projects in developing worlds,” said Kaleigh. “Next year’s conference is much closer to the university in Pittsburgh, PA.”