Project Updates


Filakit and Toke

The Ethiopia team started out the year preparing assessment plans for the new project in Toke, Ethiopia. The plan was to travel in May to Ethiopia to collect assessment data and meet the community. However, the past two months the political conflict in Ethiopia escalated and the travel ban was put back into place by the US government. The community in Toke is safe from the conflict, however, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the conflict and events are moving quickly in Ethiopia. Following the escalation of the conflict and the travel ban, our team had to cancel the in-person assessment trip and look into remote options. Many discussions and meetings between the project team, mentors, community partners, and a potential contractor in Ethiopia have kept our students busy the past couple of weeks. Previous challenges related to remote work due to Covid-19 has led the team to prepare multiple contingency plans to either move forward with the project in Toke or to find a new community in a different country. In the meantime, our community partners in Toke submitted their community application to EWB-USA and we are waiting for their response to help us decide how to move forward with the project. The team expects to have a decision from EWB-USA and as a chapter by the end of winter break, so that we can get back to work next semester. Even though there is a lot of uncertainty, the Ethiopia project team has taken time to reflect on the value of our projects to the international communities we partner with, as well as learn about Ethiopian history through our NGO partners. 
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The Chirijuyu project has transitioned into the second phase of remote implementation in order to more efficiently advance construction. The Guatemala Country Office is taking on a greater role to oversee construction efforts and field engineer any issues as they come up. In-country partners have been balancing a significant workload throughout the remote implementation of the Chirijuyu project, leading to delays from the originally expected timeline. Now that travel restrictions allow travel to Guatemala, a small team of four students and three mentors will travel from January 5-15th to coordinate outstanding tasks and focus exclusively on moving the project forward. The team will also strengthen relations with community members, NGO partner Long Way Home, and the Guatemala Country Office to the benefit of future projects in the region.

Chi Chokon

The Guatemala team has been planning for remote and in-person May assessment. Using the information that we have gathered from speaking with the community in Chi Chokon, the team has been able to identify key parts of the existing water distribution system that need improvement. The three components of the system that the team has been focusing on are the tanks, pipelines, sources of water. During the semester, students have been looking at ways to gather information that can be used in the future to make decisions about these components. The students have broken down their strategies into data that can be collected remotely with the help of our in-country partners, as well as data that should be collected during an in person visit that we are planning this May. In preparation for alternative design analysis next semester, the team has brainstormed ways in which the design components can be grouped in an efficient way.  Learn more

Victoria Garden

The Victoria Garden team has been busy at work collecting assessment data and coming up with alternative analysis for the different project deliverables. Over the semester, the team visited the Victoria Garden in St. Paul, and collected soil samples and measurements of the key components of the garden, even getting some drone shots with one of our mentors Laura! Following the assessment trip, the students started coming up with different alternatives to their problem statements, meeting biweekly with the gardeners to ask questions and discuss different solutions. On December 8th, the team presented all the final alternative analysis to the gardeners and received feedback about their favorite ideas and CAD drawings. Getting ready for next semester, the students will start making designs and preparing implementation plans for the end of the semester and beginning of summer.  Learn more

Local Collab

The Local Collab team is continuing its goal of providing engineering solutions for organizations in the Twin Cities through a collaborative partnership between the UMN and Minnesota Professional chapters of EWB. Many new members joined the team this semester on both the student and professional sides as we closed out our first project with Beacon Interfaith and began a new project with Division of Indian Work.

Beacon Interfaith Housing Collective

We are excited to announce the completion of Local Collab’s first project! Beacon Interfaith is an organization that aims to create and provide homes to advance equitable housing in the Twin Cities. Our final deliverables for Beacon included energy assessments and tax recommendations for twelve properties in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We’re grateful to all the volunteers who made this first project possible, and would like to extend a special shout-out to EnerChange for providing technical guidance on the energy audit process. We can’t wait to see what our partnership with Beacon has in store for the future! Learn more

Division of Indian Work

Division of Indian Work (DIW) aims to support urban Indigenous communities with education, healing approaches, and leadership development by creating safe and healthy community environments. Over the summer we discussed potential projects with DIW related to site improvements for their Lake Street headquarters. After assembling a team and getting the proper paperwork organized, our Work Plan was approved, and we were able to get the ball rolling. Preliminary research is underway in the areas of solar, compost, and rainwater catchment, and our first official site visit was completed in early December. Learn more