Amadei founded Engineers Without Borders to address the needs of people who work simply to stay alive by the end of the day. The organization now has some 12,000 U.S. members, about half of whom are working in 48 different countries. There are 400 chapters in the United States alone, some consisting largely of students, others of professionals.
Amadei cited three particular challenges for engineering. The first is engineering in an emergency. What does engineering look like two hours after an earthquake, a week after an earthquake, eight months after an earthquake? How do engineers make the transition from rapid response to recovery to development to sustainable development? Engineers tend not to be in the field after emergencies, despite the contributions they can make to recovery, sanitation, education, and policy. “I was in Haiti in March. Not a pretty picture. There were 1.6 million people in the streets of Haiti in March. They are still in the streets of Haiti.”
A second challenge is engineering in native cultures. Engineering does not necessarily look the same in developing parts of the world as it does in the developed world. Amadei described an example of what he called frugal engineering—an engineer in India who devised a