Build Day Program: Building a Sustainable Community One Day at a Time

Happy New Year, everyone! Though, this post is twenty-four days late, it’s better late than never. Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) would like to kick of the new year with a shout out to its subsidiary group - Build Day. Since its launch in 2017, Build Day, a national initiative created by ESW, has executed more than five projects across the country. Build Day involves the cooperation of community members and students who work together to create more sustainable communities with one-day builds. From solar tabletop gardens to rainwater irrigation systems, it’s amazing what the ESW community can accomplish in a little over a year! How can we accomplish so much from one-day project builds? Build Day has a formidable force of 263 volunteers across the country. These individuals are student engineers and members of the community who help construct designated projects. Students come up with feasible projects that will benefit the community and improve its sustainability and resilience against climate change. Once the students create a blueprint for their ideas, they find suitable partnerships with community members and organizations and kick-start the Build Day project cycle.   Why We Need Programs Like Build Day Engineers are vital to solving some of today's and tomorrow's biggest engineering challenges, such as climate change and problems with infrastructure. These issues can be addressed by technically-minded groups such as engineers. However, many educational institutions fall short of preparing engineers to solve big, messy problems because the problems often involve ethical, social, and economic realities that can't be replicated in the classroom. The overall goal of Build Day is to create engineers who are better equipped to tackle large social problems and who understand their ethical responsibilities as technical experts. Designing solutions for complex problems goes beyond the rigid technical framework taught in textbooks or tested in labs. A clear gap exists between designing engineering projects and what communities need. Any project, no matter how complex the challenge it is designed for, is always deeply rooted in a rich cultural history, political and economic contexts, and intrinsic social and power structures. Our unique approach is to partner student engineering teams with community organizations while inviting the community to participate directly in the design and build process. In doing so, we will train students to consider social justice with every project they design and build, and to consider how these projects can impact marginalized low-socioeconomic communities. Just as the people who design and build solutions for communities, the people within those communities become equally responsible for the effects of a project—whether those effects are beneficial or disruptive—when they are included in the planning process. Therefore, having student engineers and community leaders work side-by-side is crucial to building a better world that's more sustainable, resilient, and socially equitable and responsible.   What the Build Day Program Achieved in 2019 Project 1) What: A rainwater collection project that resulted in an irrigation system with a 930-gallon reservoir. The reservoir enables urban farmers at First Market Farm to use rainwater year-round. Who: Rochester Institute of Technology ESW student chapter working with The First Market Farm. The event was sponsored by the Rochester Area Community Foundation in collaboration with Taproot Collective. When: April 14, 2019 Where: Rochester, NY Project 2) What: Ten eco-friendly planters for the garden for the main entrance and inside Ithaca Children’s Garden. The live demonstrations served as an opportunity to educate and encourage the community to learn more about renewable energy. Who: Cornell University ESW student chapter working with Ithaca Children’s Garden. The event was sponsored by New Belgium When: April 27, 2019 Where: Ithaca, NY Project 3) What: Multiple rain gardens built in the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation center. Who: Pittsburgh University ESW student chapter for the community of Oakland. The event was sponsored by New Belgium. When: September 23, 2019 Where: Pittsburgh, PA   Building Forward in 2020 The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation, which funds undergraduate and graduate studies and provides financial support related to building, engineering, and design, has awarded a grant of $5,000 to the Build Day program. This money will enable students who want to partake in Build Day 2020 to execute their sustainable projects and ideas for their local communities. For more information, please visit Buildday.org
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ESW 2017-2018 Annual Report

  2017-2018 Annual Report  We are so excited to share our 2017-2018 Annual Report with all of you. We hope that you will celebrate ESW's accomplishments from the past year with us, including the continued innovation of our Resilient CommUnity Design Challenge winners and that we impacted 500+ people in two communities through our newest program, Build Day.   As we look forward to the 2018-2019 fiscal year, ESW will to advance our work to empower young engineers to tackle the toughest sustainability challenges by focusing on our three key priorities: building more partnerships with community organizations, growing our membership globally, and creating more opportunities for professionals to engage in building a better world.   Between the momentum we’ve built through our membership and the fervent calls for action on climate change from concerned citizens across the world, it’s clear that we need to prepare the next generation of problem solvers to tackle problems that no generation before have had to face.  
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5 Universities to Check Out if You Want to Build a More Sustainable World

If you are anything like us, you are passionate about making the world a better place. Whether you want to work on photovoltaics or waste reduction systems, we know you want to ensure you are getting the education you need. If you are in high school faced with the daunting task of applying to colleges and universities, you might be overwhelmed with options. Read more
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A Queer Perspective

Pictured: Brittany Bennett, Executive Director of ESW, at the 2017 ESW Annual Conference. Brittany is one of the many queer members of ESW.   ESW is proud of its inclusive and diverse culture, but in the field of engineering at large, the representation with respect to sexual orientation is still quite skewed, despite apparent recent advances. In celebration of the recently concluded Pride Month, we at ESW wanted to share perspectives from some of our LGBT+ members, as young professionals in their field. We put together some questions for them and we’ve shared some of their answers here (different answers separated by blank lines) : Read more
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All-women team making Vancouver more resilient to earthquakes

Vancouver faces a 1-in-5 chance of experiencing a serious earthquake within the next 50 years. Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) student members at the University of British Columbia are working to keep Vancouver citizens safe in the event of a catastrophic earthquake. Read more
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ESW's Response to Paris Climate Accord Decision

Last week, President Trump announced that the United States will be pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord. Here at ESW, we want to take this moment and reflect on our place in the worldwide effort to combat climate change. Our mission, to forge innovative, lasting solutions to local and global sustainability challenges, is more important than ever. Last week, President Trump announced that the United States will be pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord. Here at ESW, we want to take this moment and reflect on our place in the worldwide effort to combat climate change. Our mission, to forge innovative, lasting solutions to local and global sustainability challenges, is more important than ever. Read more
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ESWcon2017: Recap & Award Winners

During the first weekend in April, over two hundred people gathered in Austin, Texas for a weekend full of speakers, workshops, networking, and fun at the 2017 ESW Annual Conference. This year's conference offered new opportunities for a growing   Read more
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