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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fundraising Updates!!!!

Jambo my fellow scholars, philanthropists, and awesome people!

We have some exciting news and an opportunity for you to help EWB win $6000 for the Nyambogo Project! EWB-UC was selected as a finalists for a grant competition sponsored by Penetron International. We are competing against Northeastern and Tufts University. Simply click on the following link and vote for UC!

Mobile link / Non-Facebook

This is probably one of the few times you can actually like something on Facebook and actually have an impact on someones life in a developing nation!


Next update is that the fundraising period for the Cincy Charity Golf-Ball Drop has been moved from Nov 15, 2013 to April 17, 2014. So, we have A LOT more time to raise funds for Nyambogo!!! We now have FIVE AND A HALF MONTHS to reach our goal of $5000. Let's snap to it and make it happen people! Donate. More info on the event

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

UC Sustainability Summit

What a great weekend.

This past weekend EWB was invited to attend the UC Sustainability Summit. Kelsey Reichenbach, Sam Zogheib, Evan Saunders, Blake Beard, and myself all represented EWB at the summit. The event occurred at General Butler State Resort Park in Kentucky. So many student groups were present at the Summit. Students for Ecological Design (SED), Mountaineering Club (UCMC), DAAP Cares, Real Food Challenge, Greek Life, Leaders for Environmental Awareness and Protection (LEAP), and of course, UC Sustainability, all had representatives at the summit. So, lets get down to what transpired over this great weekend.

The summit began on Friday evening with some icebreakers and group building activites, so that everyone could get to know each other. After the icebreakers, the group wrote down the ground rules for the summit. They were your basic rules you want for a summit of this nature: keep an open mind, respect others, hugs/respect personal space, you get the idea. After that, we went to dinner at Two Rivers Restaurant. The buffet was AMAZING! So many foods to choose from, each one better than the next.

The group building activity after dinner was for groups of eight to create a three minute commercial. So many funny commercials were created using random props given to each group. A hockey playing Barack Obama approving a miniature Old Spice deodorant spray can, using records to bring the dead back to life while Nicholas Cage stole the Declaration of Independence to try and help, and a few more funny commercials got the summit off to a great start.

The guest speakers for the night were Mary Beth McGrew from UC Planning, Design, and Construction and Joe Harrell from UC Utilities spoke to the group about sustainability efforts at UC. Mary Beth discussed LEED Certification of buildings at UC, and the efforts of UC to incorporate sustainable practices in new buildings being built around UC. Joe Harrell was there to talk about the efforts that Utilities has gone to to reduce UC's carbon footprint. The main issue discussed was the coal power plant that is currently being operated on medical campus. He talked about other options that UC is looking into to power the boilers. The main source that was discussed was the use of fuel pellets to operate the boilers. These fuel pellets would drastically reduce the carbon emissions of the plant. The only downside is that fact that the pellets have to be shipped all the way from Green Bay, Wisconsin. So, UC has been talking to local business to drum up support for a plant to create these pellets to be constructed near Cincinnati. Read more about the pellets and the power plant here.

The summit then went into brainstorming mode. Everyone divided into multiple groups and wrote down any ideas they had about sustainability at UC. The goal is to present the top five goals the sustainability summit wants to see implemented at UC by the Bicentennial in 2019. A lot of great ideas were thrown around, including solar panels, using gym equipment at CRC to generate electricity, water bottle refill stations being set up around campus, more green roofs/beautification and so many other great ideas were mentioned. The entire list was posted on the walls, and everyone got five votes to vote for there favorites (there were around 35 ideas listed).

To end the night the group went down to the camp grounds and had a bonfire. S'mores were made, and everybody was able to mingle and get to know one another. The bonfire was a great way to relax to get ready for an event filled Saturday.

Saturday started off with yoga in the morning at 7am (for those that actually woke up, aka not me). Breakfast was at 8, and then the summit got into productivity mode a little after 9. The morning session was identifying the problem. Everybody divided up into their respective student groups and sat down to discuss the problem their student group want to tackle. For EWB, that problem was fundraising/marketing for the Nyambogo Project. Fundraising and marketing have been the areas EWB-UC really needs to improve upon because, let's face it, we are engineers. We want to design things and build them. We aren't always the most social or verbal bunch you will ever meet (we are working on it, OK?!). But we can't just ignore fundraising and marketing hoping we get that one big donation that gives us what we need to finish the project. So, as a group we outlined what we need to do to market the fundraising campaign and make it successful. We divided it up into four categories: marketing, events, donors, and grants. We then discussed all the different aspects of each category, and Saturday was off to a fantastic start.

The summit then moved into student skill sessions. The topics in these sessions talked about grant writing, delegating tasks, transition of power from class to class, being an effective leader, and a large variety of other topics. Each person had chosen four different skill sessions to attend when they filled out the application to attend the summit (there were 12 to choose from). These lasted about 25 minutes per session, and offered great ideas to implement.

After lunch it was time to listen to the guest speakers. There were four speakers total, and each student could pick two speakers to listen to. The speakers that attended the summit were Mark Fisher from the Cincinnati Zoo, Jim Schenk  from Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage, Ramsey Ford from Design Impact, and Kathyrn Lee from Environment Ohio. I attended the Enright Ridge and Design Impact sessions, and each offered there own insights into sustainability and its role in this world. Enright Ridge is an ecovillage located in Price Hill here in Cincinnati. The purpose of the ecovillage is to provide the opportunity to live in a connected community that explores alternative energy while still being in the heart of the city. Design Impact is a local non-profit organization that works in developing nations to provide solutions to various social needs. They have designers partner with entrepreneurs and communities to find solutions to these issues. Both speakers where highly engaging, and each got me thinking of new ways to approach sustainability.

After the speakers, we moved onto laughing yoga. Alex lead the group in laughing yoga, which was a fantastic way to unwind and recharge for the next round of activities. Laughing yoga was not like regular yoga with the stretching and contortionists positions. It was about the unwinding aspect that yoga provides. The entire time Alex had the group laughing as hard as they can, throwing around "laughter balls", and trying to form a circle with everyone sitting on each others lap.

We next moved into session two: resources. Here we discussed all the resources that our group has at their disposal. We determined that EWB has the following resources: technical knowledge out the wazoo, partnerships (with EWB-USA, VLOP, and SHED), our alumni, our mentors, and a few other things (there was a lot of info being thrown around, I couldn't remember everything). We also had a contest to build a balloon tower (sound familiar?). We divided into four groups, and I am proud to say that my group won (kind of helps when you have an engineer who wants to design structures), but it was a very close race. After the second session we broke for dinner.

After dinner we started off with team rock-paper-scissors. The way it works is if you lose the match, you have cheer for the person who beat you for as long as they are winning. If they lose, you then start cheering for the person who beat them and so on. This was a surprisingly quick competition only lasting a minute or two.

The third session for the day was planning for execution. The purpose for this was to further expand on the ideas generated in the previous sessions. A large interconnected web chart was created to outline all the tasks that would go into a specific topic. We choose to focus on the restaurant fundraiser we want to put on over the course of the year. We outlined where they could take place, the different tasks that would be necessary to execute the plan, and they various jobs people would have to take on the get the job done. We came up with a lot of good ideas, and now know of a lot of things that new members can help with to feel more involved with EWB.

After the third session, everyone headed back down to the campground for another bonfire. At the bonfire everyone went around and acknowledge someone or something that they liked that occurred during the days activities. The bonfire was a great way to relax before heading off to bed.

The next day started off again with morning yoga, and then moved into breakfast and packing up the car. The final session for the summit was about reflection on the summit and preparation. Each group was then given the opportunity to present the different ideas they had for their organizations problems. We talked about how we want to approach the problem of fundraising for Nyambogo. We first want to make an emotional connection with potential donors, and then use this connection to pitch the water project without getting into the technical details of the project.

The summit ended with a picture and a group hug, and that concluded the events of a fantastic weekend.

The Sustainability Summit was a great event to attend. We had the chance to meet other leaders of student groups who are as passionate about sustainability as we are, as well as make a lot of new friends. I highly recommend that every member of EWB try and attend the summit at least once before they graduate.

A big shout out to Charles Marxen, Ryan Ponti-Zins, and the rest of UC Sustainability who put together such a wonderful summit. My only wish is that I could have experienced the summit before I entered my senior year.

(Sorry for not having any pictures. I was too involved to remember to take any with my camera)

One more thing, make sure you vote for EWB-UC in the Penetron Contest!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

EWB Happenings

Jambo fellow EWBers!

We have a few things to discuss, and a lot of upcoming events to talk about.

EWB-UC members at the meet and greet with Happen, Inc.
   Lets start with last week. Last week we had the meet and greet with the professional chapter and Happen Inc, a local nonprofit. Happen Inc works in Northside using art to bring children and adults together. They are going to be building a community garden in Northside, and EWB-UC and the EWB-GCP are going to help with the design and construction of the garden. We had a wonderful turnout, and we are very excited to be working with such a fantastic organization.

   Then on Saturday Kelsey and I went to the Cincinnati Professional Chapter meeting out in Amberly Village. There we were able to tell the professional chapter about our fundraising opportunity with the Cincy Charity Golf Ball Drop (more on that later), and to get general updates on the professional chapters activities with the biogas generator project at the Cincinnati Zoo and in Rwanda, and their new water project that is in the brainstorming phase.

   The next big update is that Anton and Mark leave for Tanzania this Saturday! They are traveling with Village Life Outreach Project's October medical brigade, and will be gone for two weeks. They are going to be discussing the design of the water distribution system with the village elders in Nyambogo, as well as representatives from SHED, VLOP and the local Tanzanian Government. If you see Anton or Mark before their trip, be sure to wish them luck and safe travels!

   Next up is the EWB Regional Conference! The Great Lakes Regional Conference is being held in Cincinnati this year at the Blue Ash Campus, and is being hosted by the UC Chapter, The Professional Chapter, and The Miami University Student Chapter. You can register for the conference here, and you can learn more about the conference here. It should be a fantastic event with a sustainability tour of the Cincinnati Zoo, as well as a tour of the Cincinnati Water Works River Pumping Station. If you are looking to volunteer at the event, contact myself, Michael McMahon or Sarah Martynowski

  During the weekend of October 25-27th, the UC Sustainability Summit will be taking place at General Butler State Park in Kentucky! Kelsey Reichenbach, Sam Zogheib, Evan Saunders, and myself will all be representing EWB. It should be a lot of fun, and we will return with new ideas on how to continue to improve EWB. 

   We have a BIG fundraising opportunity on November 15 here in Cincinnati. We will be participating in the Cincy Charity Golf-Ball Drop being held here at UC's Nippert Stadium! On Nov. 15th, a helicopter will drop 100,000 wiffle golf-balls at Nippert Stadium. Your name will be written on each golf-ball purchased. There will be ten targets set up on the football field and the owner of the golf ball that lands closest to the middle of the center target will win $10,000 in cash! The winners in the center of the nine remaining targets will win $1,000 in identical prizes.
There will also be a chance for one of the 200 closest balls to win $1 MILLION!

We have a fundraising goal of $5,000 and we need everyone to spread the word! You can learn more by clicking here. To donate to the EWB team, click here, or follow the links on the website to find the Engineers without Borders team under the non-profits header. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Now Where Were We...

Hello again everyone!

It has been quite a while since we have sent out an update, and we have a lot of stuff to talk about.

The last time we talked was back in December, right after Richard and myself finished the third implementation trip to Burere. There has been a lot of activity in Burere in the last 9 months, so that is where we will begin our journey. Upon the restart of classes in January, we started to plan our next implementation trip in April/May to put the roof on the school (if you don't remember, the concrete ring beam was put into place in December). We once again turned to Richard Elliott to guide us through the process of how to build the trusses and put the roof on the building. Richard was traveling back to Tanzania in March with Dr. Michael Zaretsky of VLOP and some students from UC. The plan was for Richard to create a mock-up of one of the trusses, so that when the implementation crew arrived in April, a "cookie cutter" pattern of the truss would be ready to be used and streamline construction of the roof. Richard was successful in this regard, and sent us a picture of the completed truss.
Truss built in March
 Yeah, it's pretty big. And 13 of them will be placed on top of the ring beam.
   Next big event for Burere was the 4th implementation trip in April. Selected to go on this trip was Justin Thompson, Sean Buchanon, John Wynn, Matthew Menche, Devin Metzger, and Richard Elliot. Unfortunately since I was not on the trip, I can not give you day by day updates on construction. Matt was able to send me some photos of the trip, so those will have to do to describe events that occurred.
Construction Team and Kingigoro Students

Putting Trusses in place
Moving the truss into place


Drilling holes for the bolts

At the end of the trip, all 13 trusses were in place and 2/3 of the roof was complete. Our trusty contractor Julius completed the roof for us over the summer. Then in August we received some pictures of the completed roof. It looks absolutely amazing.

 A job well done by all those involved! Then a few weeks later, Rosie sent us a picture of the school, with classes in session! To say we were excited would be the understatement of the year. 
Julius (right) helping to officially open up the school.
We still have a few things left on the school to complete, but since the main structure is complete, EWB-UC will now begin to focus the majority of our attention on raising funds for the Nyambogo Water Project.

 A very big thank you to those who have supported us throughout this incredible journey. Jay, Julie, and Jason at THP Limited for there work on the design, Richard Elliott for traveling with every team to build the school and lending us his experience working in the area, Emily Roush Elliott for helping us begin implementation, being there to guide us through the building process, and for letting us steal Richard when we traveled, Dr. Lewis and VLOP for helping us through this long process, and to all the students and faculty at UC who played a part in the Burere Schoolhouse Project. Thank You!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Just to Bring You Up to Speed...

Sorry for the delay in posting an update, we lost power in Shirati for a while.

Let us start with what occurred on Friday. Friday was a much slower day than hoped, with most of the day spent finishing formwork, putting bolts into place, and beginning to straighten some of the corners. Since our rebar crew was out of work, they began moving the aggregate into position near the mixing pad. We worked hard until 430, then had a meeting to discuss options for pouring concrete on Saturday. Julius believed it would take 12 hours to pour. We toyed with the idea of working til nightfall to straighten and level the formwork, but then decided we would end up making more errors than progress with everyone being exhausted. On the ride back to the hostel, we toyed with ideas to see if we could pour zege on Saturday, since no one really wanted to pour on Sunday. I believed it would only take 5-6hrs to pour, so we decided that we would pour at night if necessary. Julius, Daniel and Sakai went to Shirati that night and rented a generator, lights and cables in preparation to pour at night. That concluded a long day five and we hit the hay soon after dinner.

This was it. Day six. Zege day. Whether we were there til 5pm or 11pm, zege was going to be put into place one way or another. We hit the ground running with another 630am start and immediately started working our butts off once our boots were on the ground in Burere. The day started with Richard and I running a water level, getting all the marks to which we would level the formwork. Once that was done, Richard went around one side leveling and straightening formwork, while Sakai and Daniel went the other direction. While they were doing this, I continued to place bolts in there proper locations. By 11, the formwork had been leveled, and 18 of the 26 bolts were in place. At this point we started to pour zege. Richard, Otoke and another worker started in one corner while Otienu, another worker, and myself started in another. The zege crew was well versed in the process, and everything ran smoothly. After a while, I had to take a break from zege and finish putting in the bolts into position, making sure the crew didn't put zege in that area without the bolts in place. Things ran smoothly, and the zege was completed by 330.

DONE. Mission accomplished. And it only took four and a half hours to pour the beam. It required six long days of work but the third phase of the project can be checked off the list.

Sunday was a day of relaxation with trip out to Roche in the morning. In Roche, Richard did a quick inspection of the building, then we set about the main task for the trip out to Roche. We were there to take photos of the rough location for the planned doctor housing to be built on site. After the trip to Roche, we went back to Shirati, and Sakai invited us to his house for lunch. To say it was a good meal and a large one at that would be the understatement of the year. Sakai had a whole feast for us. Ugali, chapati, beef, fish, rice, mangoes, cabbage, pineapple, bananas, you get the picture. Sakai had a wonderful spread, and we ate til we were almost in a food coma. The rest of the day was spent relaxing fishing and just being lazy.

And that brings us to today. We left Shirati this morning and we are now relaxing comfortable at the Mennoite Guest House. Tomorrow we head to the market to do some shopping, then from there we board our plane in the evening for the long flights home.

Good Night and Happy Holidays Everyone!!!