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Walla Walla, WA
Friday, December 8, 2023

Engineers Without Borders’ Impact and Mission

May 18, 2023
Austin Price

Shawn Rantung Explains EWB

Austin Price

Shawn Rantung, a senior engineering major, is the project manager of the Walla Walla University chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a group that focuses “on making the maximum positive effort for our community while ensuring that projects are sustainable and genuinely beneficial for everyone involved, in accordance with EWB-USA's project process.” [1]  

For instance, they are currently building a well for a village in Manda, Tanzania. EWB is working with the community to develop a reliable and safe solution to the village’s water supply problem. [2] 

How can students get involved in EWB? 

Rantung explained that students can get involved by signing up anytime throughout the year. Not only does EWB provide regular club activities like free food and events, but they also have four projects currently underway.  

Rantung stated, “We welcome anybody and everyone who wants to join the team, but you just have to realize that there are some commitment standards. For example, if you join up for Tanzania, you kind of hope or expect that you can travel.” [3] 

Rantung also said, “If you don’t want to do international projects, there are local projects that are basically community [focused], and that’s what I’m a manager of. The local project is based around the community here at Walla Walla so what we try and do is work with people who need engineering expertise in this local area. Most recently we are finishing up or closing a project that we’ve been working on the last two years. It involves flowmeters.” [4] 

Flowmeters are devices that measure how much water goes through irrigation fields and are often used by farmers. 

Not everything always runs smoothly in these projects, thus members of the team must adapt. Rantung went through difficulties with the flowmeter project and realized that it wasn’t worth the time to continue searching for solutions to a problem when they didn’t have the proper materials, funding, or professional assurance to go on successfully.  

With some success, once a project is finished, the mission doesn’t go away; it just continues to grow and spread to more projects. WWU’s chapter of EWB has done multiple projects over the last 14 years. 

Rantung is excited to work on a new project by boosting the marketing aspect for EWB at the Welcome Back Bash.  

As the international projects for EWB are based off helping with wells and irrigation, Rantung wanted to create a cool device and system that displayed engineering plus waterworks for the Welcome Back Bash when students sign up for clubs. Basically, you pump water at their table, and it goes up and over the table. The software team measures the output of that water, and you see how much water you’re pumping. Thus, having a competition, a key element to a popular stand. [5]  

Another way to get involved, support, or learn more about EWB is through the annual Gala put on by the University at the Marcus Whitman Hotel. The next Gala will happen on February 10, 2024.  

The Gala is one of the most important events for EWB. It’s a big part of the funding for the main projects of EWB and a good way to learn about the projects that are happening. Many of the EWB VIPs for the organization come and see what is going on with the fundraiser. This last Gala they made around $18,000 in one night through a variety of different contributions. [6] 

Rantung summarized his involvement in EWB over the years:  

I think EWB is great in the sense that it’s not only an opportunity to travel, but it’s also a good opportunity for us to build resumes and build project experience. In engineering, everything is project related . . . because of my experience at EWB, I was able to have a good buffer on my resume from the start I joined EWB sophomore year. Do I spend a lot of hours for EWB? Yes. It’s very time consuming because, as project manager, not only do you have your club to manage, but I’m also part of the EWB cabinet, so that means I must participate in all the events; I have to do the Gala, I have to do all the things. But as much a time dedication [as] it is, I think it’s completely worth it. For people that are in the international projects, I mean, they get fly to Africa, and they get to directly impact communities. We saw a statistic from the EWB website [that showed] our Tanzania project has impacted over 2,000 people in Africa, so just being a part of that not only is it self-fulfilling but it’s also great for [my] resume.” [7] 

If you want to get involved or learn more about EWB here at WWU, simply visit their site,, and explore the various options to contribute in any way. Every little bit of help allows these projects to be realistic, impactful, and sustainable. 



  1. Building a better world. (n.d.). Walla Walla University Engineers Without Borders. 
  2. Manda project. (n.d.). Walla Walla University Engineers Without Borders. 
  3. Interview with Shawn Rantung, 05/11/2023

      4-7. Ibid. 

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