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Freshmen get involved early through Engineers Without Borders

Fri, 09/20/2013

LAWRENCE — An effort to get freshman members more involved is paying dividends for one student organization at the University of Kansas School of Engineering.

Engineers Without Borders is a nonprofit humanitarian organization that partners with developing communities worldwide to improve their quality of life through sustainable engineering projects. The KU student chapter has more than 60 members. During the last school year, KU-EWB launched an initiative to encourage freshmen to be more active and invested in the organization.

“Through the Freshman Engineers Without Borders program, we had the chance to brainstorm about projects, and then plan and implement them,” said Brett Wagner, KU EWB’s social chairman. “It’s not just about standard EWB projects. We also had study groups and a lot of encouragement from others in the group to get involved. We had opportunities that helped us grow as leaders, get to know each other better, and succeed in school.”

Wagner, a sophomore in civil engineering, is one of about 20 returning students who were active last year in the Freshman EWB program. Current EWB President Ryan Endres and past President Jessica Haberstock launched the effort during the 2012-2013 academic year.

“We feel the Freshman EWB program, which is based on a similar program within Engineering Student Council, dissolved the disconnect between new members and the rest of the group,” Endres said. “It enables all members to feel involved and that their work is meaningful. Additionally, we were able to give several freshmen opportunities to be in charge and lead a project, which is something that is hard to find in your first year.”

Last year’s freshman class led a Halloween-themed food drive to benefit ECKAN and for the holidays, they gathered toys and food for Lawrence’s Ballard Community Services to provide gifts for underprivileged children in the Lawrence area. The first-year students also worked with Rebuild Joplin (Mo.) to assist the town after a May 2011 tornado killed 158 people and destroyed about 2,000 buildings, roughly 20 percent of the town.

“We unloaded more than 1,000 trees from semi into a tree nursery and worked on a roof and insulation on a home being rebuilt. The freshman really contributed,” Endres said.

KU’s Freshman EWB program is back for its second year. This year’s group also has the opportunity to select, plan and implement events and fundraisers.

“It’s a great opportunity for freshmen to get involved and feel invested. You can meet other freshman with similar goals and aspirations, and really make a difference,” Wagner said.



David Roediger’s award-winning research and writing has already transformed how historians view the growth of social freedoms in America though the intersection of race, class, ethnicity, and labor. Now Roediger, as KU’s first Foundation Distinguished Professor of History (http://bit.ly/1AbAqYw), will continue to break new ground in those fields as he works with KU’s departments of American Studies and History. Roediger likes to study historical flash points — where one particular change brings a cascade of wider cultural changes. His latest book, “Seizing Freedom, Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All,” makes the point that as slaves began freeing themselves across the South during the Civil War, their emancipation inspired and ignited other cultural movements for freedom — such as the women’s movement for suffrage and the labor movement for better working conditions and an eight-hour day. Understanding the individual stories of average people who wanted to make their lives better, including slaves or factory workers, are important to understanding the wider political movements and elections, Roediger said. “It's tempting to think that all the important political questions have been decided,” he said, “but actually people are constantly thinking about what freedom would mean for them.” Tags: #KUcommunities #CivilRights #History American Studies at KU
Turning rural America healthy: Christie Befort uses $10 million award. http://t.co/rrFjFtHbYT #KUcommunities http://t.co/Bsuek4k9QC
Lauded race and class historian becomes KU Foundation Professor David Roediger’s award-winning research and writing has already transformed how historians view the growth of social freedoms in America though the intersection of race, class, ethnicity, and labor. Now Roediger, as KU’s first Foundation Distinguished Professor of History (http://bit.ly/1AbAqYw), will continue to break new ground in those fields as he leads KU’s departments of American Studies and History. Roediger likes to study historical flash points — where one particular change brings a cascade of wider cultural changes. His latest book, “Seizing Freedom, Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All,” makes the point that as slaves began freeing themselves across the South during the Civil War, their emancipation inspired and ignited other cultural movements for freedom — such as the women’s movement for suffrage and the labor movement for better working conditions and an eight-hour day. Understanding the individual stories of average people who wanted to make their lives better, including slaves or factory workers, is important to understanding the wider political movements and elections, Roediger said. “It's tempting to think that all the important political questions have been decided,” he said, “but actually people are constantly thinking about what freedom would mean for them.”


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