Engineers Without Borders works to help Tanzanian school


Rohan Escobar (left), senior electrical engineering major, hands an NIU bag to Jacqueline Frank (center) of Nyegina Secondary School. Dr. Andrew Otieno (right) challenged the students to find out where Belize was and awarded them with prizes. 

By Ross Hettel

A high school in Tanzania has student organization Engineers Without Borders to thank for its donation of free time and technical knowledge to improving the 600-person school.

Two years into the five-year commitment of working with the school, the engineers have already helped design and build solar lighting.

With plans to return over winter break, their next task is improving the energy efficiency by building wood stoves and solar water heaters.

Project leader Joshua Ott said the wood stoves will decrease their energy usage because they retain more heat. Solar water heaters save energy as well by decreasing the amount of energy needed to boil water, Ott said. Cooking is one of the main uses of electricity, which is expensive

in Tanzania.

Even over improvements made to the school, sustainability is the main focus, said group president Alan Hurt.

To help achieve this, Engineers Without Borders only uses materials bought in Tanzania. This generates income for the local economy and provides work for inhabitants, Hurt said.

The school’s residents also learn the concept behind the projects as well as help build them.

The goal is for the school to be self-sufficient after five years, said group adviser Andrew Otieno. Engineers Without Borders set goals for the project and after five years, the school is on its own, he said.

Students who would like to help with the project can visit the Engineers Without Borders website.

Engineers Without Borders accepts any student looking to join regardless of their major, Andrew Otieno said.