The new student chapter of Engineers Without Borders at Hope College is reaching around the world for its first service project.

Engineers Without Borders - USA (EWB-USA) is a national non-profit humanitarian organization established to partner with developing communities worldwide in order to improve their quality of life. The partnership involves implementing environmentally and economically sustainable engineering projects, while involving and training internationally responsible engineering professionals.

The Hope chapter will be designing and implementing a water purification system in Nkuf, a 300-member community in Cameroon in Africa, and will also help the residents learn how to maintain the system once it is in place.

A small group of students and one of the chapter's advisors will travel to Cameroon during the college's spring break in March to perform a site assessment, with the plan being for a larger group to go for two or three weeks when the system is ready for implementation. The Hope students' work will also include raising the funds for the project.

While details are still being worked out, the project is expected to take six months to a year to complete.

Approximately 30 students are active members of the chapter, which was established early in the spring of 2005. The group, which is interdisciplinary and open to Hope students from all academic majors, formed after student interest was sparked by a presentation about EWB-USA in the summer of 2004 by David Stubbs of the Western Theological Seminary faculty. Stubbs now serves as one of the chapter's four advisors, along with Jeff Brown and Michael Misovich of the Hope engineering faculty and Jim Brown, who is physical plant project manager at Hope.

EWB-USA, which grew out of a project by the University of Colorado-Boulder in Belize in 2000, has 121 chapters, including 32 professional chapters and 87 university chapters grouped by region. Hope's chapter is one of 16 in the Great Lakes Region, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. In addition to Hope, the Michigan schools with chapters are Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University.

EWB-USA currently has 75 active development projects in 30 different countries, ranging from wastewater project design and implementation in Belize, to grain grinding in Ghana, to a bridge project in Haiti, to school dormitory construction in Thailand, to sewage and erosion control for trailer lots in Pine Ridge, S.D.