Engineering Innovators Without Borders

 

Committed to improving the quality of life of the poor and disadvantaged without seeking to profit from their poverty.

 

Engineering Innovators Without Borders (EIWB) is an organization dedicated to find technological solutions to problems that afflict the lives of the world's poor.  We believe that many problems in developing regions of the world -- such as those involving energy, transportation, nutrition, water, agriculture, and health -- can be alleviated using simple and effective solutions that conform to the definitions of appropriate and sustainable technologies provided below.

 

Appropriate Technology (from http://www.eionet.europa.eu/):  A flexible and participatory approach to developing economically viable, regionally applicable and sustainable technology. 2) Technology designed to be used in developing countries.  Typical requirements are that it should: be easy to use by the unskilled; have no difficult-to-get-parts; be easily repaired on the spot.  Typical example: a simple windmill to pump water rather than a diesel-driven pump.  The terms 'alternative', 'intermediate', and 'appropriate' are often used interchangeably.

 

Sustainable Technology (modified from Wikipedia): is technology that complies with the principles of economic, social, and ecological sustainability.  It ranges from the microcosm of designing small objects for everyday use, through to the macrocosm of designing buildings, cities, and the earth's physical surface.  It is a growing trend within the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, urban planning, engineering, graphic design, industrial design, interior design and fashion design.

Appropriate and Sustainable Technology Links

 

Objectives of EIWB

Engineering Innovators Without Borders has the following broad objectives:

  • To provide inventors of appropriate and sustainable technologies from all over the world a venue to disseminate their inventions so as to benefit the greatest number.

  • To harness the inventive capabilities of individuals around the world by allowing them to adapt and enhance innovations to meet local needs and available resources.

  • To provide a forum where individuals from anywhere may describe their technology needs and seek solutions from those with the expertise and resources needed to investigate and innovate.

Innovations posted on the EIWB web site may be a product, a process, or a combination of the two.  Examples of product innovations include a better burning kitchen stove, construction bricks reinforced with agricultural waste, or a cheap and efficient method for preserving fresh produce.  A better method for crop rotation, better techniques for rainwater harvesting, or a chapter and more efficient way to lay rural roads would be process innovations.

Once a product or process is posted on the EIWB website, it will be considered to be in the "open source" domain.  Individuals or organizations other than the inventor may, free of cost, adopt and use it or modify it to fit their needs.  Modified designs may be posted on the web site.

The EIWB website will track every step in the development of an innovation and provide users a forum to discuss changes and other aspects of the innovation -- such as variations in local fabrication methods and materials, costs, and effectiveness under different conditions.

 

Rationale

The vast array of free resources provided by individuals and organization on the web shows there are many around the world willing to give their time and expertise to help others.  Organizations like Engineers Without Borders -- whose members travel to forgotten regions of the world to bring technological expertise to bear on local problems -- also demonstrate the spirit of selfless service in the engineering professions.

It is in the intention of EIWB to tap into this spirit of altruism.  We are convinced that if the best engineering minds of the world -- many of them settled in affluent societies -- become aware of and tackle engineering problems in underserved regions of the world, the result may be many innovative solutions.  In allowing grassroots workers and aid agencies to define problems and solicit solutions to those problems, EIWB will be helpful to truly transcend geographical borders.  Adopting an "open source" model would allow continual improvement and localization of solutions.

As EIWB grows, it may be possible to partner with corporations and governments to institute periodic awards for products that benefit the greatest number or processes that bring about significant savings in time, effort, and costs.

 

Posting Guidelines

Any innovation posted on the website must include:

  • Details about the individual posting, including contact information and institutional affiliation.

  • Details about the individuals involved in the design of the innovation, including contact information, institutional affiliation, title, and qualifications.

  • An electronic form filled out by each individual who has a potential patent or copy rights to the innovation, giving permission for the innovation to be posted on Engineers Without Borders web site under an open source agreement.

  • Detailed specifications of the innovation, including (for product innovations) the following: purpose of the innovation; conditions of use; longevity of the innovation and its parts; cost breakdown in fabrication; technical specifications (including detailed dimensions, materials, fabrication methods, energy requirements, engineering diagrams) of the system and its components; personnel requirements (including training) to operate the product; facilities needed to house the product; maintenance requirements; and a report of tests conducted on the innovation.  For process innovations, the specifications would include detailed descriptions of all steps in the process, resources needed to complete each step, potential barriers to the completion of each step and solutions, if any, to problems; any materials involved; and personnel requirements.

  • Video footage showing any or all of the following: fabrication of the equipment; operation of the equipment; maintenance; and testimonials by beneficiaries.