EWB UMaine Alumni - Mike Parker
(Founding Co-President of EWB-UMaine)
My major inspiration for becoming involved with Engineers Without Borders was the work that close family friends are doing in Paraguay through their non-profit Andrea Ritz Clinics in Paraguay providing healthcare facilities and basic infrastructure to communities in rural Paraguay in memory of their daughter.
UMaine Engineers Without Borders has worked with the community of Dulce Vivir in Honduras to collaboratively develop a waste water and drainage system. This system will certainly have a positive impact on the health and well being of the community as it addresses surface disposal of wastewater and seasonal flooding that inundated the community with contaminated water. The benefits of the project were in no way limited to those in Dulce Vivir. The dozens of UMaine students including myself who worked to form the chapter and complete the project had our educational experience enriched significantly through participation in this meaningful and challenging work. Additionally, a Maine Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders was formed to support UMaine Engineers Without Borders and has been working with a Community in Ghana on their own project.
Some challenges we’ve faced as a chapter included building a working organizational structure from scratch and working across such physical and cultural distances with the people of Dulce Vivir. Building the organization of UMaine Engineers Without Borders took time and patience which definitely taught me some lessons in how to get a diverse group moving the same direction. Working in Honduras was another challenge but we were fortunate to be introduced to the community of Dulce Vivir by a group at UMaine led by a Spanish professor. This introduction really helped us to start the project out on the right foot and begin our partnership with the community.
Jean MacRae has been the advisor of UMaine Engineers Without Borders since its founding and her support, hard work, friendship, and guidance are really the foundation the organization was built on. Her contribution can’t be overstated and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with her throughout my time at UMaine Engineers Without Borders. Others that need to be thanked include our project mentors who agree to advise and guide the project and sometimes even travel to foreign countries on trips planned by college students they don’t really know, not something for the faint of heart. Our project mentors have included: Robert Sypitkowski, Kyle Coolidge, Albert Frick, and Brendan McGuirl. I also want to personally thank all of those people who helped build, grow, fund, and continue on UMaine Engineers Without Borders into the organization it is today.
The experience of helping to start UMaine Engineers Without Borders gave me an opportunity to develop many important skills in leadership and perseverance. My experience in UMaine Engineers Without Borders also enriched my life through the friendships I made and the perspectives I was able to gain in working with the community of Dulce Vivir.