Organization travels to Uganda, completes charitable engineering projects

Nathan Davis

A crying woman falls to her knees in front of Dominic Gonzalez.

She doesn’t know what he is doing here, but she knows that whatever it is he is here to help. He is an obvious outsider, bearing no resemblance to any of the locals at the Ugandan town, and the locals perceive him to be there to contribute to their community. Gathering herself, the woman thanks Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is the president of the Engineers Without Borders organization at Wichita State. EWB started in 2007 with the goal of taking on and completing charitable engineering projects in developing countries. The group traveled to Uganda this spring to build two computer labs for the residents of a village.

“It changed my life.” Gonzalez said, “I came back extremely motivated. I’m very excited to get things going.”

Expecting a short and leisurely trip to Uganda for Spring Break, Gonzalez was astounded by the poverty he encountered. He saw hunger and need all around him.

 “The people in that town had so little, but managed to be frugal and stay happy,” Gonzalez said. “I come back to the lavish lifestyle I live with paved roads and accessible water and a roof over my head. It really impacted me in the way I live today; I try to live as frugally as possible now. I came back with the mentality that if we have it is our responsibility to give. We are given a skill here at WSU, and I believe that if we are given something, it’s our responsibility to give.”

This year EWB has added a new vice president, Ahmad Drou, who is pursing a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. The organization has also started a new campaign called Shockers N’gage to try to engage its engineers and attract new members.

“Shocker N’gage involves smaller projects that members build from phase one design all the way to completion,” Gonzalez said. “We want to do things that have a purpose, and show students that things they are learning serves a greater purpose than just themselves.”

Gonzalez plans to continue the project in Uganda while also trying to keep members engaged while they are at school, and also to retain members for longer periods of time. EWB also needs funding to continue and expand upon its projects.

“This does not reach out only to engineers, but literally every branch on campus,” Gonzalez said, “We’re really taking a different angle this year. Everyone’s doing a great job and their roles.”

EWB holds meetings every Friday in the Innovation hub room on the second floor of Devlin Hall.