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President Waded Cruzado and the Montana State University team accept the 2011 Peter C. Magrath University Community Engagement Award from North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson, who chaired the selection committee.
Magrath Award Videos
Watch the two-minute videos produced by the four 2011 Magrath Award finalists.:: Montana State University: From Bozeman to Khwisero: Engineers Without Borders:: Michigan State University: Working Together to Improve the Lives of People Affected by Epilepsy in Zambia:: The Pennsylvania State University: Regenerative Design in Stressed Communities:: The University of Tennessee Knoxville: Ready for the World
From Bozeman to Khwisero: Engineers Without Borders
Montana State University
Students from Montana State's Engineers Without Borders are responsible for bringing potable water and clean sanitation facilities to 58 primary schools and the surrounding communities of the Khwisero District in Kenya.
The project has resulted in a long-term commitment and cultural exchange between MSU undergraduate students and the Khwisero community.
The Montana State University student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is a student-initiated and largely student-managed partnership between Montana State University students and faculty; the Bozeman, MT community; and the people of Khwisero District of Western Province, Kenya.
In 2004, the university's then newly established EWB Student Chapter accepted a proposal by Kenyan architect Ronald Omyonga for a partnership to develop potable water and sanitation facilities for 58 primary schools in the Khwisero District. The scope of the partnership, consisting of instituting projects at a multitude of schools and sustaining them over the long-term, is unique. Like other EWB chapters, the MSU chapter designs and generates financial resources for infrastructure facilities. But unlike other chapters, MSU’s project necessitates building sustainable relationships across race, class and cultural difference. Indeed, EWB has embarked on an ambitious project whose success depends on securing the on-going trust of, and collaboration with, the people of Khwisero. As the students are fond of saying, EWB is engaged in “a social project with an engineering component.”
Initial fundraising allowed a two-person EWB team to visit Khwisero in 2004 and let to the determination that potable water was best delivered to schools via deep-well boreholes. Additional fundraising allowed teams to return and drill boreholes at Mr. Omyonga’s childhood school and at a second school in 2006 and 2007 respectively. By 2007-2008, EWB’s success had attracted a larger and more diverse generation of enthusiastic students. It included, for example, a film student who directed and produced The Water Carriers, an award-winning film about the interactions between a EWB student and a member of the Khwisero community.
Today, EWB is the largest and most successful student-led organization at MSU with more than 60 active students representing every college within the university. With local fundraising and grant writing, the group has raised over $375,000 for project implementation, drilled wells at seven primary schools, constructed composting latrines at five schools and a biogas latrine at another, designed a distribution pipeline to link one of the wells to additional schools, a health clinic and a market, and sent over 75 MSU students to collaborate with the people of Khwisero in their development efforts. In addition, the group has developed peripheral projects benefiting various communities in Montana, including Native American tribes.
EWB has also transformed how students and faculty interact—student leaders are actively involved on university committees focused on curriculum development. Students and faculty are collectively progressing interdisciplinary, service learning and global action initiatives across the campus. New international outreach initiatives, not directly associated with EWB, are also expanding as a result of this organization’s groundwork. This partnership has realized an unanticipated reach, as communities throughout Montana have become connected to the Khwisero community. And locally, EWB project work is expanding to communities across Montana.
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