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Engineer in Action – Taiwan Tech Students Engage in Community Projects in Indonesia and Vietnam
Engineer in Action (EIA) is a volunteer abroad program that was initiated by Taiwan Tech's College of Engineering three years ago. EIA was held again from 17 to 31 July 2019, with additional projects in Indonesia and Vietnam and a record number of 110 participants. At the closing ceremony at Taiwan Tech on October 21st, students presented their projects to a wider audience and the Taiwanese media. A beautifully designed exhibition on Taiwan Tech campus with photos, models, and artifacts which shows the achievements of the EIA teams welcomes visitors until the end of the week.   
Engineer in Action is an international University Social Responsibility Program which was launched in 2017 with Taiwan Tech partner school Widya Mandala Catholic University, Indonesia. This year, 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 our three partner institutions joined hands to carry out two week-projects which were designed to improve living conditions for local residents in rural communities that our partner schools had identified.  
In Vinh Thanh village, about 60 km west of Can Tho, an elementary school was refurbished, including the renovation of the school’s library, toilet and computer room. 
Another project was carried out in in Currah Cottok in Indonesia's Surabaya District, a dry area that often suffers from draughts. The EIA team came up with an idea to improve the irrigation system by designing an efficient mobile sprinkler system with a radius of up to 30 meters. 
And finally, an EIA team went to Cowek Kedung, also near Surabaya, where farmers make a living with rosella farming. The EIA team suggested ways how to upgrade the processing of their products and to expand the scale of products by introducing jams and lotions. They also designed attractive packaging for dried rosella to improve the marketing of the rosella products. 
All EIA projects were meticulously prepared. Taiwan Tech professors designed a cross-disciplinary program in close cooperation with their Vietnamese and Indonesian colleagues which included a one-semester preparation course where the projects were planned with the students. Students were also introduced to Vietnamese and Indonesian culture and language classes while they were still in Taiwan. But in spite of all the careful planning, the projects required a lot of spontaneous problem-solving, flexibility, and hands-on work.
The program was a logistical challenge – not only providing construction materials, but also arranging accommodation and food for so many people. “Leaving one's comfort zone” became very real as everybody had to accept the discomforts of village life. Taiwan Tech students Ada Chen, Sharon Cheng, and Joe Cheng had joined the EIA team in Vietnam. When asked about their experiences, they unanimously agreed: “We were afraid of not having air conditioning and hot showers, but we got quickly used to it. It was such a rewarding experience to live and work with students from another country, much more interesting than mere tourism and sightseeing. " 
The EIA program is partly funded by the Ministry of Education, but also receives donations from Taiwan Tech alumni who stayed connected with their alma mater, and wish to support underprivileged communities in their home countries. 
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