An innovation at Engineers Without Borders

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Courtesy Caitlyn Yu

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) was founded at UW, and fittingly, it is also the place for the newest innovation in the organization’s history.

As this term, the UW chapter of EWB introduces its the new design portfolio.

This portfolio involves collaborations with industry partners to work on design challenges in alignment with EWB’s mission: to catalyze changes that address the root causes of poverty and inequity by investing in people and ideas that will contribute to building an equitable and sustainable world.

The design portfolio was conceived by Ansh Juneja, B-stream Chapter President, in Fall 2019.

“We started the design portfolio because we realized that Engineers Without Borders wasn’t fully serving the purpose that a lot of students in our school were looking for and expecting from such a group. We wanted to open an opportunity for students who wanted to apply their engineering skills towards issues that mattered and that they cared about. After all, the whole point of Engineers Without Borders is to use your skills towards an issue that matters, no matter what it is or where it is in the world,” Juneja said.

The team is currently working with Decomp to research and develop a way to decompose single use plastics.

Decomp was the winner of the UW’s Hult Price, for which they pitched a solution to global plastic pollution using biodegradation processes.

They hope that developments in this technology will reduce the effects of single use plastics on the delicate ecosystems and greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2016, the global population produced 320 million tons of plastic. This plastic takes from 400 to 1,000 years to break down, all the while releasing harmful greenhouse gases. This has an especially detrimental effect on the poorer regions of the world that are heavily reliant on their local ecosystems for survival. Decomp has identified a potential fungus that can breakdown certain types of plastic.

They are currently working with the design portfolio to conduct research and identify the best growth conditions for the fungus such as temperature, pH, and nutrient levels etc. They plan on using their newfound knowledge to design a commercially viable bioreactor.

Going forward, the team plans on competing in several competitions such as the World Challenge, the STU Clark Business Competition, and the Hult Regionals.

It is very fitting that such a portfolio was started at UW as the students of this university look to explore challenges and seek opportunities to use their skills.

This new design portfolio provides both for those that feel the need to make the world a better place.

The design portfolio exemplifies the way UW students think. Student’s at UW do not spectate change, they bring change.

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