The story is simple and inspiring. It was 2002, in a Boulder, Colorado, backyard. Two men, Angel Tzec, a landscaper and representative of the Belize Ministry of Agriculture and Bernard Amadei, a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder met by chance and a friendship was born. Small talk led to big change. Tzec invited his new friend, Dr. Amadei to visit his village in San Pablo, Belize, which was desperately in need of clean water.
There was no electricity, running water or sanitation. Dr. Amadei was stunned to see little children carrying water all day long from a nearby river. "I knew that, as a civil engineer, there had to be something I could do." Was it fate? Or just a prime example of how an emerging leader comes to life?
Amadei returned with eight University of Colorado-Boulder students and Denis Walsh, a civil engineering expert from Boulder, Colorado. By working together with the local community, this team installed a clean water system powered by a local waterfall. Simple, sustainable and low-cost, the entire project was completed for $14,000. As he harnessed the power of water, Dr. Amadei decided to harness the power of professional and student engineers to complete similar low-tech, high-impact projects in other developing countries. It was a success and sparked the beginning of Engineers Without Borders USA.
Since its incorporation in 2002, EWB-USA has grown from approximately eight engineering students and a civil engineering professor to an organization of over 12,000 students, faculty and professionals. Today, EWB-USA's membership continues to grow, limited only by the organization's infrastructure and ability to ensure the quality and sustainability of the community programs.