Engineer in Action (EIA) is an international University Social Responsibility program which was launched in 2017 by the Taiwan Tech College of Engineering with Widya Mandala Catholic University, Indonesia, one of Taiwan Tech’s longstanding partner school.
In 2019, EIA was expanded to include two more partner schools, the Institute Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember, also in Indonesia, and Can Tho University, in Vietnam. Mixed teams of students from Taiwan Tech and the three partner institutions joined hands to carry out two week-projects which were designed to improve living conditions for local residents in rural communities.
In 2020, the corona-crisis had thwarted all plans for projects abroad. Instead, the EIA team decided to go ahead with a project at Dongao Village in Yilan County at Taiwan’s East Coast. They came up with the idea to build an aquaponics system for the Dongao Elementary School, a project that would not only provide children with a place for recreation but also offer an opportunity for environmental education.
The construction of the ecological canal turned out to be more complicated than expected. The project involved the use of various materials and construction techniques, and landscaping work had to be done in the end. In spite of all the careful planning, a lot of spontaneous problem-solving, flexibility, and hands-on work was required. Students had to deal with more than once unexpected problem, for example when a steel frame, that was found too weak to support heavy loads, had to be redesigned.
The project also included a summer camp with lessons and games, greatly appreciated by the kids in this remote area in Taiwan which is home to an aboriginal community, the Atayal tribe Tpiham. Participating students – undergraduate students from different departments and different nationalities – agreed that they had greatly benefitted from this hands-on project. And so did the people in Dongao village, who warmly welcomed and accommodated the guests from Taiwan Tech.
The EIA program is partly funded by the Taiwan Ministry of Education, but also receives donations from Taiwan Tech alumni who stay connected with their alma mater.