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New EWB chapter members will help solve technical engineering problems

David Preiss (MED’09) brings Engineers Without Borders to BU.

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When David Preiss (MED’09) decided to start a chapter of Engineers Without Borders at BU last January, he thought it would be a small endeavor. But more than 75 undergraduate and graduate students proved him wrong two weeks ago, when they showed up for the first meeting, eager and excited to get involved.

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is a nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for communities internationally — members help solve technical engineering problems in their communities and beyond. “What Engineers Without Borders does is allow the community to directly see and appreciate the work of engineers,” says Preiss, who is the new chapter’s president, “so that there’s more of a personal connection between students and their work and the community.”

Along with his faculty advisors, James McDaniel, a College of Engineering associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, and Catherine Klapperich, an ENG assistant professor of manufacturing engineering, Preiss is soliciting ideas for projects from the chapter’s large member base.

Preiss says he thinks that EWB is an important addition to BU because it will allow its excellent engineering program to shine. “BU has a really strong engineering program and it’s a bit overshadowed by MIT and Tufts,” he says. “We want to flex the strengths of the BU engineering faculty.”

There are many benefits, additionally, for students and communities involved in the project, according to Preiss. “I think it’s an important organization because it allows students to learn about other cultures internationally, even locally,” he says. “It allows them to collaborate with engineers from other cultures and with other engineers from different disciplines within their own school, and it will allow them to give back to their community with these services.”