September 13, 2011 | Atlanta, GA
Adjoa Aka, an undergraduate student in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), is volunteering with the Georgia Tech chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-GT) in their fundraising efforts as they prepare to send a team of students to Cameroon, Africa in December to implement a clean water distribution system. According to Aka, who is originally from Togo, a country in West Africa, working with EWB-GT is a way for her to “give back”. When asked what motivates her to give back, she stated that giving back brings her so much joy. Even when she was in Africa, she tutored children as a way to serve her community. According to Aka, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described it best when he said, “Everyone can be great, because anyone can serve… you only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Aka also volunteers her time to help African refugee families as they adjust to a new life in the United States, specifically encouraging them to further their education. In addition to her volunteer work, Aka is a member of the Student Alumni Association and the African Students Association at Georgia Tech.
To learn more about Aka, continue reading the interview that follows.
ISyE: How are you contributing to EWB-GT’s fundraising efforts?
AA: I have been helping the fundraising team on a project to implement a clean water distribution system in Cameroon, Africa. I have been making phone calls and distributing information to potential sponsors who may be interested in supporting this trip, and EWB-GT in general. Gifts in support of this project will assist with travel expenses, as well as the cost of construction for the water distribution system, solar pump, and storage tank.
ISyE: For any of our readers who would like to help support this project, where can they go for more information?
AA: That would be great! Anyone who wishes to make a donation to the Georgia Tech Foundation in support of EWB-GT can contact Nancy Sandlin, the director of development for ISyE, at 404-385-7458, or email@example.com.
ISyE: What have you enjoyed most about working with EWB-GT?
AA: EWB-GT is 100% run by students. It is amazing that students can take what they learn in class and apply it to such a great cause. For example, Georgia Tech students are responsible for designing the water tank and water distribution system which will be used in Cameroon.
ISyE: How do you plan to apply what you are learning as an ISyE student to EWB-GT?
AA: As an industrial engineering student, I plan on working with the team to offer more efficient and cost effective ways to help those in need. For example, I can use statistical data to determine how much water a community needs each day, or to assist in finding out the probability of disease in the water. I hope to have the opportunity to travel with EWB-GT, and work on location.
ISyE: With the strenuous work load from your classes, how do you have time to volunteer?
AA: It is always easy to find time for things we love. When I have a little free time away from my books, I find time to do what I am passionate about.
ISyE: What motivated you to pursue a degree in industrial engineering?
AA: I have always known I wanted to be an engineer, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity I wanted to pursue this field. My strength lies in mathematics and problem-solving. As an industrial engineer, I can use my strengths for the good of humanity, helping underprivileged communities, which is where my passion lies.
ISyE: What are your hobbies and interests?
AA: I enjoy Agbadja, a traditional dance from my home in Togo, and listening to soukousse and zouk music, popular music in African culture. I also like to travel and explore other cultures. On my last visit to Africa, I visited Benin, my family’s native country, to learn more about my heritage.
ISyE: What is your favorite thing to do on the Georgia Tech campus?
AA: The Georgia Tech Christian Campus Fellowship (CCF) is a great place to meet fellow students and make friends here on campus. I enjoy attending the CCF events and listening to their guest speakers.
ISyE: How do you hope to contribute to society, making the world a better place, as an industrial engineer?
AA: Using my skills as an industrial engineer, I hope to work with disadvantaged communities, helping them gain access to such basic needs as clean water, food, and healthcare.