Engineers For A Sustainable World - Organization History

Organization History

While earning an engineering masters degree at Cornell University, Regina Clewlow began developing the vision for Engineers Without Frontiers USA (EWF-USA) in early 2001. Working with her friend and mentor, Krishna Athreya, Regina began to develop the framework for EWF-USA’s national organization. As a part of a master’s degree course at Cornell, she developed the business plan for EWF-USA and secured a partnership with a non-profit incubator based at Cornell called the Center for Transformative Action. EWF-USA was then officially established, with Regina Clewlow as its first executive director.

In the spring of 2002, the first collegiate chapters were formed at Cornell and Pennsylvania State University. By December 2002, chapters had formed at other universities across the United States, including Stanford, Northwestern, Caltech, and UC-Berkeley. In March 2004, EWF-USA changed its name to Engineers for a Sustainable World following a dispute with Engineers Without Borders - USA over the similarity between the two names. In 2007, the ESW national office relocated from Ithaca, New York, to Oakland, California. In September 2008, Regina Clewlow stepped down as executive director to be replaced by Julie Chow.

During Julie Chow's tenure, ESW underwent a period of significant organizational and programmatic restructuring. In 2009, ESW's vision and mission was revised and the national team structure was introduced. Also in 2009, ESW welcomed its first international sister chapter at the National University of Rwanda. From 2009-2011, the number of active ESW collegiate chapters doubled and paid memberships increased by four-folds.

To further strengthen its ties to the engineering education community and to improve programming in the engineering education space, on July 1, 2011, ESW moved its physical and fiscal home to the University of California, Merced. Concurrent with ESW’s headquarters move, Julie Chow stepped down as executive director. Dr. E. Daniel Hirleman is currently acting executive director of ESW. Dr. Hirleman holds this position in addition to serving as the dean of the school of engineering at UC-Merced.

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