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TO GET INSPIRED. to get inspired

Alcoa Foundation partners with Engineers Without Borders International to improve engineering practice for the developing world

DENVER, November 11, 2014 – Engineers Without Borders International (EWB-I) and Alcoa Foundation are collaborating on new partnerships between EWB-I organizations and universities, fostering the exploration of new models for improving the learning process for engineering students. There is a critical need to educate and train a new kind of engineer – the “Global Engineer” – which involves not only technical skills, but includes soft skills and a global perspective. A mid-2012 study from Millennial Branding showed that soft skills topped the list of must-haves for employers, with 98 percent of them saying communication skills are essential and 92 percent identifying teamwork skills. To address this need, EWB-I and Alcoa Foundation hosted representatives from 23 EWB-I member organizations at a Global Engineer Forum.


Three notable outcomes from the forum include:

  1. University and EWB-I Member Associations are collaborating to successfully integrate global engineering skills into traditional technical engineering curricula and are sharing these best practices with other EWB-I organizations and universities globally.
  2. Corporations such as Alcoa confirmed the need for global engineering skills in the global workplace and provided EWB-I Member Associations with insights on strengthening corporate partnerships in support of engineering education.
  3. Member Associations from countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Norway, the UK and the U.S. demonstrated how leveraging their collective knowledge and experience can impact greater change in engineering education, and they discussed improving collaboration in the future.


The forum was an extension of the Creation of a Global Engineer program launched earlier this year, which allows funded universities to explore new models for improving how engineering students learn about and gain experience in international development.


“Learning the ‘non-technical’ side of engineering and development, how to effectively work with a variety of global communities and understanding their priorities, norms, values and communication styles is essential to our members’ success,” said Oliver Nachevski, president of EWB-I. “We encourage our members and partners to share new ideas and educational best practices that strengthen student skills in leadership, global awareness and community assessment and engagement.”


“Alcoa Foundation is proud to invest in the development of future leaders in engineering,” said Tricia Napor, Director Campus Partnerships and Foundation Programs, Alcoa Foundation. “All students want to apply their education in the real world.  This program allows engineers to work on projects that greatly improve the quality of life for people in developing countries while exercising key skills in collaboration and leadership that are vital to the success of technical professionals.”


Alcoa Foundation first supported EWB-I in 2012 with a $200,000 grant to fund EWB-I development projects in 12 communities in five countries, including Belize, Cambodia, Columbia, Ecuador, and Sierra Leone. This initial grant helped EWB-I expand its global work and reach an estimated 6,200 community members and 110 engineering and international development students. The results included improved sustainable and safe drinking water, renewable energy and reliable modes of transportation to remote communities in need.



“We are grateful to Alcoa Foundation for their generous support and long-term commitment to helping EWB-I expand our reach and strengthen our capacity to serve students, teachers and communities worldwide” said Nachevski. “It is gratifying to partner with an organization so dedicated to long-term impact and results.”


About Engineers Without Borders-International

Engineers Without Borders – International (EWB-I) is an international federation of national EWB/ISF Member Associations whose mission is to facilitate collaboration, exchange of information, and assistance among its members groups.  EWB-I helps the Member Associations develop their capacity to assist developing communities.  The Member Associations of EWB-I share a similar mission, which is to partner with disadvantaged communities to improve their quality of life through education and implementation of sustainable engineering projects, while promoting global dimensions of experience for engineers, engineering students, and similarly motivated non-engineers. EWB-I creates links between like-minded organizations and cuts across national borders.

About Alcoa Foundation
Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the U.S., with assets of approximately $470 million. Founded 62 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $590 million. In 2013, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $22 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow’s leaders for careers in manufacturing and engineering. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa’s thousands of employee volunteers who share their talents and time to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the Company’s signature Month of Service program, in 2013, a record 62 percent of Alcoa employees took part in nearly 1,300 events across 24 countries, benefiting more than 505,000 people and 1,900 nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit and follow@AlcoaFoundation on Twitter.

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