Engineers without Borders, Portland Maine Professional Chapter has kept busy this year.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions halting travel and imposing other challenges, each of our projects have continued moving forward by discovering creative solutions for communication and implementation.

Water Conveyance Project in El Progreso, Ecuador. In January 2020, a team of six, chapter members traveled to our project site in the cloud forest region outside of Quito. The team continued efforts to pipe clean water from a spring to centralized distribution tanks approximately two kilometers away. This project will eventually supply fresh water for all the homes in the community, saving people the time and energy of walking to their water and hauling it back.

Once the pandemic prevented travel, we worked with the local office for Engineers in Action to provide masks, hand sanitizer and soaps to the community. We are thrilled that there have been no COVID cases recorded, and progress continues with design and installation of the piping.

School Construction in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia. Our Chapter’s portion of this project was to perform the structural design for the buildings. It was completed in 2019. However, we continue to work with the local construction manager to support the installation of solar panels on the roof, address stormwater drainage and support the construction of latrines using interlocking compressed blocks as building materials. The school now has over 250 children enrolled, and we continue to team with the local technical college to use this construction project as their extended classroom as well.

Water Well Drilling in Uganda. Helena Hollauer, a local geologist and CEO of Envirotech Associates, Inc. traveled in December 2019 with the Northeastern University Student Chapter of EWB to support drilling a water supply well in a community of approximately 2,000 people. She provided drilling oversight and technical assistance to ensure the well was drilled and installed correctly, and that the water quality and yield was sufficient to meet the needs of the community.

Helena mentored the students and supported them in understanding the technical aspects of the process and how to utilize the NGO for long term project support. Additional technical support, via 5 a.m. calls, was provided by U.S. colleagues to resolve unforeseen project issues and ensure this phase of the project’s success. It takes a village to care for a village.

Locally, we have continued to support other chapters in the Northeast and even the mothership: EWB-USA. Instead of presenting live at regional meetings, three of our members have been filmed presenting classes on sampling groundwater, chemistry, geology, and of course well installation, temporarily calling for our chapter to be named Geologists without Borders. These classes are available and free to any volunteer worldwide. We are also supporting eight other EWB chapters with drilling and hydrogeological technical support.

Our EWB – Portland Maine Professional Chapter welcomes all interested volunteers as we work together to network many new college graduates with local professionals. We also welcome any new engineers and scientists to our community. If you are interested in becoming an EWB volunteer, even if you are not an engineer, check us out at



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