This semester, Iowa State University’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering professor Dirk Maier and doctorate student George Obeng-Akrofi hosted fellow members of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB-KNUST) student organization in Kumasi, Ghana.
Five members of the program, two KNUST students, two graduates from the university and the professor leading the team spent two weeks at ISU taking classes, attending seminars and working with EWB-ISU students and faculty.
The team has been working on several sustainable community development projects with ISU – collaborating with a remote, rural community in the Upper West Region of Ghana trying to provide people with improved water supply and distribution systems, rainwater catchment and a new health clinic. A lot of their time here has centered around discussions for this on-going collaboration, working with EWB members here on blueprints and ideas to implement in Ghana. With funding from a U.S. State Department University Partnership Initiative grant, the ISU EWB members and the KNUST EWB members have been able to rotate meetings between Ames and Ghana. While the teams consistently communicate virtually, the in-person meetings allow more opportunities to build relationships and learn more about each other.
“Being a part of this community has allowed us to share ideas with each other, and to help develop some personal skills,” said Emmanuel Padmore Mantey, president of EWB-KNUST.
“Here, we are having fruitful interactions, talking about what we can do to alter designs and things like that,” said James Afful, who graduated from KNUST last year in mechanical engineering, and is now the project coordinator for EWB-KNUST.
KNUST faculty advisor Dr. Fred Owusu-Nimo also traveled to ISU with the EWB-KNUST members, guiding the members and working with professors here, as well.
“It is about the exchange of ideas and learning from each other,” Owusu-Nimo said. “The core reason for our trip is about the Engineers Without Borders collaboration, and it has all been very fruitful.”
When there is a collaborative exchange between EWB-ISU and EWB-KNUST students and faculty, the different perspectives that they gain are unlike any other, always learning new things and meeting new people.
“Getting to converse with professors and students has been my favorite part of being here,” Nancy Boamah, senior in chemical engineering at KNUST and project lead for the EWB-KNUST water supply team said. “We have been having conversations centered on Africa and as women engineers, and they have been giving us pieces of advice as women in engineering. I have learned a lot from them and from seeing other perspectives.”
Each of the EWB-KNUST members that visited had a different experience. With different focus areas for each member, they all attended different ISU classes based on their interests.
EWB-ISU members like Maier and Obeng-Akrofi are traveling to Ghana this coming May to connect in person again and advance projects that the teams have been working on together.