The health of our community– in terms of both the people and the environment– are paramount to Batture’s mission. To anyone who follows our work, it should come as no surprise that we have a long history with Engineers Without Borders, a coalition of student and professional volunteers that embraces a global understanding of community. Unfamiliar with their wide-reaching work? Read on.
How did Engineers Without Borders start?
Engineers Without Borders began in 2001, when a professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder visited Belize and experienced the painful reality of indigenous populations who lacked clean water. Aside from the obvious health issues that come with an absence of sanitation infrastructure, most of the children of this San Pablo community could not attend school because they were walking miles both ways to collect water.
With the technical skills of engineering professionals and the local community’s own knowledge of natural resources, it was possible to install a clean water system supplied by a large waterfall. This simple, low-cost solution through engineering projects encapsulates the spirit of Engineers Without Borders, as well as Batture’s own mission: practical solutions for climate-conscious infrastructure in collaboration with, and in service of, local communities.
How is Batture involved with Engineers Without Borders?
For our CEO Bob Mora, working with Engineers Without Borders gets to the root of his passion for this industry: “Engineers Without Borders has helped me maintain that mindset of wanting to help others throughout my career.” Mora got involved in 2010 after reading a Times Picayune article about the New Orleans chapter of EWB; ever since then, the organization has been an ongoing part of Batture’s culture.
In fact, many members of Batture’s team first connected through their work with Engineers Without Borders: civil engineer Ryann Jeansonne was a member of the New York chapter; Bob Mora and Mary Scambeau Johnson, Batture’s Structural Operations Manager, have both held tenures as the EWB’s New Orleans chapter president; and our Structural Designer, Arielle Authement, is a current president.
New Orleans and Engineers without Borders
Our city and Engineers Without Borders have a special relationship that we are especially proud of: the first ever EWB project approved inside the United States was in New Orleans. Since then, EWB projects in New Orleans have included gutting, demolition, and rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina; wetlands reclamation; community skate parks and playgrounds; wastewater treatment systems; solar heater installation; and more.
With their mission of international community, EWB New Orleans also has a host of past and present projects abroad, such as water distribution projects in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
However, finding projects that are a good fit for pro-bono engineering services can be more challenging than people might expect, and we’re always looking to discuss project ideas and meet potential partner organizations to work with. In-house, Batture continues to create opportunities for our employees to support Engineers Without Borders, including allowing them the flexibility to officially log their volunteer time.
These experiences not only provide value to our community, but also create incredible opportunities for professional and personal development– EWB’s high-impact projects cultivate invaluable engineering and leadership skills.
As Bob puts it, there’s not a career level you reach and suddenly begin to “magically influence” other people to work on your projects, and Engineers Without Borders offers an opportunity to develop effective management skills in the early stages of your career.