Undergraduate Nipun Kottage’s summer research proposal, “After the Partnership: An Impact Assessment of Engineers Without Borders Projects in Western Ghana” was recently awarded a BSOS Summer Scholars Grant through the Dean's Research Initiative. Dr. Thurka Sangaramoorthy will provide mentorship throughout the research process. 

Project Abstract

Since 2014, the University of Maryland’s Chapter of Engineers without Borders (EWB-UMD) has worked with the community of Suma Ahenkro in Ghana to implement a photo-voltaic energy system and a water supply system. Although these projects have been deemed successful by EWB standards, recent scholarship in the social sciences has questioned the sustainability of development projects, particularly those utilizing community-based management models. This proposed study will examine the social, political, and economic impacts of EWB-UMD’s program and partnership on the community of Suma Ahenkro. By conducting ethnographic research in Ghana and the United States among community members and key stakeholders in Ghana as well as from EWB-UMD, I will examine how development projects become understood, are actively negotiated, and ultimately implemented. Findings will be used to identify factors which influence the social and environmental sustainability of engineering-related development projects. Ultimately, these data will inform EWB-UMD’s project delivery at its five program sites around the world.


Nipun Kottage is a Junior in sociocultural anthropology and biochemistry. He is the President of Engineers Without Borders at the University of Maryland (EWB-UMD) and has worked on water supply projects in Ghana and Nicaragua through the organization. He has aspirations to practice as an anthropologist-physician, investigating infectious disease and global health. In his free time, Nipun enjoys backpacking, cooking, and (as of very recently) SCUBA diving.