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Members of Engineers Without Borders volunteer at Vine Middle Magnet School.

Engineers Without Borders is a national organization that seeks to build a better world through engineering projects that empower communities to meet basic human needs and equip leaders to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. EWB believes that every community has the capacity to sustainably meet their basic human needs.

“Our student organization has two types of projects going at all times, one international and one domestic,” said Kalina Scarbrough, president of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s chapter of EWB. “These projects can range, but all of them are helping to give communities the basic needs they deserve. We always solve these problems using engineering skills. These projects are great ways for our student members to take the skills they are learning in the classroom and apply them.”

Some of the chapter’s local projects have included building an aquaponics garden for a Knoxville middle school and creating a solar-powered charging station connected to a bus stop for public use. Current projects include building machines to shred plastic and melt it into rulers to be given out to Boys and Girls Clubs members.

“This project also allows for us to teach the younger generation the importance of recycling and helping the environment,” said Scarbrough, emphasizing a main goal of the organization.

EWB is launching its first global project in the coming months, pending the easing of pandemic restrictions. Members will be working on finding potential water sources in an area, then determining the best way to purify the water so it is safe to drink.

“This will involve doing water quality tests, water designs, and long-lasting distribution system design,” said Scarbrough.

Along with a multitude of service projects, the organization offers members numerous learning opportunities.

“This student organization will expose you to all the amazing utilities UT has to offer, like the Innovation and Collaboration Studio,” said Scarbrough. “We will teach you about 3D printing, woodworking, applications of computer science, project management, and more. Most students wouldn’t get exposed to these hands-on opportunities until their senior year if it weren’t for student organizations like EWB.”

EWB also offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like traveling abroad to work on a service project with other members.

Scarbrough said her time in this organization has made an impact on her both personally and professionally.

“It has allowed me to make connections with new students, faculty, and staff. It has also shown me what different engineering disciplines are like,” she said. “EWB has exposed me to the hardships that communities close to me are facing on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, it has challenged me to do something about it. UT has allowed this club to make a difference even in the face of COVID. While taking safety precautions, we have still been able to meet and continue our projects.”

Engineering Vols interested in learning more about EWB can attend general body meetings, which offer an overview of the club, updates for members, and guest speakers. The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on April 22. Contact Kalina Scarbrough for more information.


David Goddard, (865-974-0683,