The University of Arizona student chapter of Engineers Without Borders was named a "Premier Chapter" at the recent EWB annual conference.
Only seven of more than 250 chapters receive this distinction each year. This year, only three of those seven were student chapters; the other four were professional chapters. The award was presented in March 2010 at the annual EWB-USA International Conference in Denver. The American Society of Civil Engineers sponsors the awards, which include a $1,000 prize.
An EWB statement said that UA chapter members "exemplify what is possible when a chapter seeks to build multidisciplinary teams. The students' commitment to building a strong chapter has ensured the successful completion of projects."
Those projects include a water supply and purification project started in 2005 in the village of Mafi-Zongo in Ghana. The project now supplies safe drinking water to more than 10,000 people in 30 communities.
A more recent project is under way in Mandoli in Mali, where the UA chapter is designing and building a rainwater catchment system to provide people and crops with water throughout the year.
The UA chapter was also invited to speak at the Denver conference about the great strides it has made in growing the chapter after a rocky start. "We were invited to speak about membership, professional support, funding," said Terra Michaels, who is stepping down this year as chapter president. "Basically, about keeping it all together. The success of Ghana project was also a big factor."
The UA chapter also won a photography contest at the conference for a photo from the Ghana project. "The photo was taken outside Mafi-Zongo in the Volta region of Ghana," Michaels said. "The men in the photo are from nearby communities and they are installing a pipeline that leads to a holding tank. Water is gravity fed through the filtration system we designed and built with the community, pumped to this holding tank, then distributed to 30 villages, which is more than 10,000 people."
As a 2010 EWB-USA Premier Chapter, EWB-UA was selected to participate in the launch of Google's "Search Stories" application.