Think Globally, Act Locally: Engineering Change with Community Engineering Corps

Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) harnesses the skills of engineers to tackle the challenges that keep the world’s most vulnerable people from living healthy, productive lives. While the International Community Program and Engineering Service Corps program carry out our mission in countries across the globe, our Community Engineering Corps (CECorps) program is building a better world right here in the United States.

Since 2014, CECorps has connected more than 75 project teams to underserved communities seeking to advance local infrastructure solutions. With a variety of project types, CECorps offers a convenient and sustainable way for EWB-USA chapters and members to give back in their own backyards.

The EWB-USA New Orleans Professional Chapter has been an active participant in the CECorps since the beginning. The chapter was first introduced to CECorps during the program’s pilot phase, when they supported projects in the midwest and the Navajo Nation. As CECorps transitioned from pilot phase to a formal EWB-USA program, the EWB-USA New Orleans Professional Chapter was one of the first chapters on board, seizing the opportunity to give back to their community while equipped with the support and resources of a national organization.

In 2015, the chapter started its first CECorps project, Greenline. The project, which is now complete, transformed a formerly undeveloped greenbelt in the Hollygrove neighborhood, home to 4,000 residents, into a community attraction that includes public park space, stormwater management systems, community gardens and urban farms.

Greenline was only the beginning. The EWB-USA New Orleans Professional Chapter has completed two more projects and has three in progress. These projects range from surveying for a local park to providing engineering support for the development of a tiny home community for people experiencing homelessness.  

So, why does the EWB-USA New Orleans Professional Chapter choose to focus on their local community? There’s a few reasons.

While chapter members are eager to use their engineering skills for good, as professionals they often cannot meet the time commitments needed for an international program. Additionally, local projects allow members to regularly witness the impact of their work.

“The great thing about local projects is that you can see the result of what you have accomplished,” explains chapter vice president and project mentor Claire Bourseleth. “It’s the little things like walking through the neighborhood and seeing people excited about the project.”

For the EWB-USA New Orleans Professional Chapter, CECorps has transformed the way they approach engineering change. Think global, act local and you, too, can build a better world in your own backyard!

If your chapter is looking to get involved in your own backyard or you’re a community wanting to learn more about the services provided by Community Engineering Corps, check-out the CECorps website!

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.