Engineers for a Sustainable World

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ESW-RPI is a student-run organization at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute affiliated with Engineers for a Sustainable World. We are dedicated to combining the knowledge, skills, and experience of the RPI community to engineer solutions to social, environmental, and economic problems, both domestic and foreign, in the most sustainable way possible. Even in areas where sustainability may not immediately appear to be the problem, it is important to consider. This is demonstrated in high-profile projects conducted by other organizations, such as the provision of water pumps to African communities. Often, these pumps are highly-engineered, manufactured products that soon break in use and are not repairable by their users. As such, they are not a sustainable solution. We in Engineers for a Sustainable World endeavor to design solutions that will bring benefit over a great length of time, considering technological, social, and environmental limitations as they interrelate. We are not restricted to environmental projects, and we welcome all interested people, engineer or not.

RPI Chapter Logo

Vision and Mission Statement

ESW-RPI's vision is twofold:

  1. To make RPI known for sustainability - both in campus operation and in the educational curriculum, especially the engineering program;
  2. To promote sustainable development in small towns and villages in third world nations by partnering with local communities and applying sustainable, design-based solutions to help meet that community's specific needs, whatever they may be. This is essentially the mission of the National ESW organization with which we are affiliated.

Our Mission Statement is "to pool the knowledge, skills, and experience of RPI and the surrounding community to discover and solve environmental, social, and economic problems, recognizing the importance of sustainability."[1]

Meetings and Events

Fall 2010 meetings are generally held on Mondays 4:00-5:30 PM, although there are slight variations as we bring in guest speakers and such.

Click here to view the most recent and archived minutes. If you have questions regarding the minutes, please contact the secretary.

Officers for Fall 2010

For a list of past officers, see the ESW Alumni page.

Current Projects and Collaborations

ESW has a number of ongoing projects, both locally (on campus) and internationally.

  • The Bio Digester Project is mainly focused on-campus. The two goals of this project are to create a working bio digester prototype on the RPI campus and to come up with a sustainable solution for food waste on campus.
  • The Haiti Project is the main focus off-campus. It comprises of creating a sustainable computer lab in Haiti through the use of solar power and computer education. There may be an opportunity to travel in Summer 2009.
  • The Peru Project is currently being tackled in IED classes with the assistance of ESW. It comprises many sub-projects to design systems in order to improve the daily lives of people in and around Cuzco, Peru. There may be an opportunity to travel in Summer 2009.

History, Membership, Attendance, Past Projects, Traditions, etc.

Since its founding in May 2005, ESW-RPI has hosted a number of projects with varying degrees of success. In cases where a project was unsuccessful, it was mostly due to a shortage of members since the club was relatively new on campus. Another possible reason for low attendance at early meetings may have been the fact that meetings tended to center around a lot of "talking" and not a lot of "doing," which may have led members to feel they weren't doing anything. Also, an overemphasis on fundraising in past years may have lowered interest in club participation. As a result, ESW-RPI has been Union funded since Fall 2007 and looks forward to changing its focus toward making RPI sustainable rather than placing most of the emphasis on raising money to send overseas. The first full-year budget was approved for the 2008-2009 school year, with big plans for interactive workshops, public awareness campaigns, and speaker fora.

Some of ESW-RPI's past projects have included:

  • Co-sponsoring the showing of "An Inconvenient Truth" with Ecologic in Fall 2006
  • Hosting a campus wide workshop on the benefits of biodiesel
  • Designing a sustainable water pumping/filtration system for the village of Umuluwe, Nigeria
  • Helping facilitate Earth Day activities on campus in the spring of 2005, 2006, & 2007
  • ESW has worked closely with Ecologic and the Student Senate on the Recycling Project, which is part of an umbrella cause called the "Sustainability Initiative" at RPI. See the SSTF for more info.

In the past there was also an annual tradition called "the Transfer of Knowledge BBQ," which generally took place at a local park in Troy each May. While it may not necessarily be a BBQ, this tradition has continued. Its purpose is to allow the current officers to pass down their experiences and what they learned about ESW to the incoming officers for the upcoming year so they can move forward in their goals rather than reinvent the wheel by starting from square one.

External links


  1. ESW Mission Statement