It’s Not just for Engineers

You’ll see it in a number of places. A series of taglines and slogans about what EWB does and who we are, and at the very end there will be the line: “It’s not just for engineers!”

That is me. Not an engineer.

I used to be.  Two years in the program and I decided to switch to a Biology Major. Two years after that and life is perfect, no regrets. Okay, well maybe a few. I definitely miss some things.

I miss being surrounded by people who saw every problem as a chance to come up with a solution.

I miss being surrounded by people who’s version of “good enough” came only after a week of long hours in the workshop trying every possible option.

I miss being surrounded by people who took the term “building a better future” very, very literally.

That is why when a friend tricked me into coming by for a meeting of EWB UBC’s Advocacy Venture with offers of free tea, I grumbled a little at first, but then decided to stick around. I was not surprised when I discovered that the familiar spirit of the world-improving engineer existed in the club. What did surprise me was that everyone else accepted, without question, that I had this spirit too. I’ll admit that I put myself on the defensive every time I had to say the words: “Oh, I’m actually not in engineering. I was, but I switched out.” And each time I scanned their faces looking for a hint of judgment, a sneer of derision, a silent mocking smile. Nothing like that ever happened. And even though I am a recent addition to EWB and plan to stick around for a long time, I strongly suspect this will never happen.

Because  intangible spirits, regrets, and my deep-seated insecurities aside, I actually do believe that EWB is not just for engineers. This is because while most members of the club do the faculty-required eating, drinking and breathing  of all things engineering, the problems that EWB tackles are far beyond the scope of any one university program. The problems EWB tackles are big. Big things like global poverty that aren’t likely to have any one solution, or even one that is “good enough”. But the power EWB has is in connecting like-minded people and inspiring them to strive for change, one goal at a time. It is in inspiring a global perspective that lasts far beyond a university degree.

These things aren’t isolated to any one faculty, and the wider the background of the people who join, the wider the impact of the whole organization.

If any of this rings true to you, then don’t be scared, take it from me. Join Engineers Without Borders. It’s not just for engineers.

-EG

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