At Northeastern, experiential learning doesn’t just happen on co-op and in the classroom. It’s the common thread in everything our students do.
Just ask senior Lucas Johnson. The mechanical engineering major and electrical engineering minor from Seattle, Washington, is the former president of the Northeastern branch of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-NEU). The organization—one of only seven of more than 250 EWB chapters to be named a Premiere Chapter last year—connects budding engineers with service projects in developing countries around the world.
Last year, under Johnson’s leadership, the team traveled to Honduras and Uganda to design sustainable water-distribution systems for communities in need of fresh water. EWB-NEU not only designed the systems, they also trained the local people to maintain the systems themselves and made sure that all replacement parts were easily accessible to make future repairs.
The results went two ways: The community’s quality of life shot up, and the students expanded their horizons dramatically. They learned about new cultures and about what it takes to come up with a long-term viable solution to a seemingly overwhelming obstacle.
“When you go to one of our villages in Honduras, you come to realize that it’s a lot more about survival than it is here,” says Johnson. “But we go there, see what’s happening, and help them construct a solution. It’s a challenge, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.”
The group will return to Uganda and Honduras in April to help bring clean water to more villages. “Our goal is to provide everybody with clean water,” adds Johnson, “and we’ll keep doing our best to make sure it stays that way.”
Photos provided by EWB-NEU members Kelsey Dunn, Laura Robinson, Michael Sanders, and Daniel Saulnier.