EWB’s annual silent auction raises over $10,000

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Engineers Without Borders' auction proceeds will go towards civil infrastructure projects in Guatemala. Photo courtesy of Alex Quiles

Marquette’s Engineers without Borders chapter hosted its sixth annual silent auction and largest fundraising event Feb. 6 at the Milwaukee Public Market.

This year, the auction accumulated over $10,000 in donations before the night was over –a significant spike from years passed.

All proceeds of the auction went to civil infrastructure projects in Guatemala where, in addition to raising funds, Marquette’s EWB chapter will design and execute such plans alongside the local community.

According to its website, EWB-USA is a nationwide organization whose mission is to “build a better world through engineering projects that empower communities to meet their basic human needs.”

Unlike other nonprofits of its kind, all fundraising goes directly to project expenses. Travel fare of volunteers, for instance, is not paid for by EWB but instead by the volunteers themselves.

The proceeds of this year’s silent auction provided funding for two specific projects: a pedestrian bridge in the village of Guacamayas Hamaca and a sustainable electrical system for the orphanage of Santa María de Guadalupe located in Santa Apolonia, Guatemala.

Although it only lasted from 6-9:30 p.m., the silent auction was a culmination of a year’s worth of planning on behalf of EWB members — none more so than auction leads Sophia Camarota and Justin Zwiefelhofer, both of whom are sophomores in the College of Engineering.

“EWB isn’t just for engineering students or engineering-affiliated people,” Zwiefelhofer said. “Of course we have the resources to design and build bridges but a lot of our work is a civil service. While students are learning through hands-on experience, we also help communities fulfill their needs.”

In addition to managing the night’s itinerary, Camarota and Zwiefelhofer were responsible for collaborating with local businesses and organizations as well as advertising the event to members of the Marquette and Milwaukee communities.

“We’ve worked so hard on this auction and done things that aren’t necessarily our expertise,” Camarota said. “And although it’s been an amazing learning experience, we’d love to have people from other majors. I don’t think people know that about (EWB).”

The silent auction has evolved a great deal since it first began six years ago, EWB chapter president and third-year student in the College of Engineering Alex Quiles said. What was initially a small gathering in the ballrooms of the Alumni Memorial Union has become a bustling occasion engrossing an entire floor accompanied by a lavish meal and live music. Among those in attendance were local business owners, professors, students and members of EWB’s University of Wisconsin-Platteville chapter.

Quiles, who had served as auction lead in 2019, said she attributes the event’s success this year largely to the students of Marquette’s EWB chapter.

“I think as engineers, we’re sometimes stereotyped as a very socially awkward kind of people — as if we just like numbers, classrooms and textbooks,” Quiles said. “But it’s super important in this industry to be able to speak to business leaders and to socialize in general. I think our students made those much-needed connections.”

This story was written by Nicole Laudolff. She can be reached at nicole.laudolff@marquette.edu.