#MoreThanEngineers: Why We Love (and Need!) our Non-Engineer Volunteers

It’s no secret that here at Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) we hold engineers in the highest esteem. Without them, we couldn’t carry out sustainable engineering projects that empower communities across the globe to meet their basic human needs. While our name and mission highlight our passion for the engineering sector, our community of more than 16,800 world changers represent so much more than engineers.

From accountants to public health practitioners, our non-engineer volunteers and staff members play a crucial role in ensuring EWB-USA’s longevity. If you’re not an engineer but are looking to get involved with EWB-USA, fear not — opportunities for you to engineer change with us abound!

Supporting Field Operations

EWB-USA projects are complex, requiring a high level of problem-solving skills. Adding a fresh perspective to a complicated problem can open your eyes to new approaches for tackling the issue. While project engineers may be focused on the best design for a water irrigation system, experts in international development or cross-cultural communications can ensure that the relationship with the partnering community proceeds smoothly.

Julie Mandoline-Trummel, a 2016 EWB-USA intern at our Nicaragua country office with a background in development and monitoring and evaluation (M&E), shared her experience: “I’ve always admired the work that EWB-USA does, but never knew how I could meaningfully contribute without a degree in engineering. This internship afforded me the opportunity to apply my skills in M&E as a social scientist … with an organization I am passionate about.”   

Claire Barker, a long-term EWB-USA volunteer and a project lead for the EWB-USA Boston Professional Chapter, says experts from other sectors bring great additional value to a project. “It was very helpful on our water project in Honduras to have input from public health people in surveys, evaluating community health data, and looking for subtle impacts of unsafe water on health.”

Supporting Chapter Operations

With 275 professional and student chapters throughout the United States, chapters play an important role in mobilizing our global movement to build a better world. We rely on more than technical skills to establish strong chapter organization and leadership. With a background in marketing or fundraising, you can help a chapter develop effective social media and recruiting strategies while raising funds for projects across the globe. If accounting is where your skillset is strongest, take the lead in creating a sustainable financial framework for your chapter.

Modesto Llanos, Vice President of the EWB-USA Orange County Professional Chapter says non-engineers play a critical role in chapters, and that up to 60 percent of a chapter’s work falls outside the scope of engineering. This includes project management, fundraising, marketing, events, IT, accounting, translators … and so much more!

Supporting Headquarter Operations

Our volunteers and chapters aren’t the only ones benefiting from the skillsets of non-engineers. From communications to accounting to volunteer engagement, non-engineers are a driving force in the EWB-USA headquarters office.

Lauren Butner, EWB-USA’s Community Engineering Corps Program Manager, believes that non-engineers have a vital role in EWB-USA’s mission. She says, “Non-engineering staff contribute largely to achieving our funding goals, telling our story in a meaningful way, and developing the financial and administrative systems that keep our programs running effectively and efficiently.”

By combining the skillsets of both engineers and non-engineers, EWB-USA can continue to create sustainable opportunities for communities to thrive.   

How will your skills make an impact?

If you’re not an engineer but are passionate about EWB-USA’s mission and want to join the movement, we want your voice and your perspective! Here are some ways to dive in:

  • Become a member and experience the benefits of networking and working alongside our community of more than 16,800 changemakers.
  • Find a chapter near you. Attend chapter meetings and let chapter officers know what skills you have to offer.
  • Join the conversation in Volunteer Village with the hashtag #MoreThanEngineers. Members have access to Volunteer Village, where you can connect with other volunteers from a variety of fields to hear about their experiences with EWB-USA and share your own!
About the Author
Engineers Without Borders USA builds a better world through engineering projects that empower communities to meet their basic human needs and equip leaders to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.