Jacob Abou-Hanna

Biology and Mechanical Engineering

Catalyst for Change

Why is a biology major leading the campus chapter of Engineers Without Borders? Jacob Abou-Hanna ’15 has a perfectly logical answer: “I am a bio major who added a mechanical engineering major because I thought engineering was really interesting. I read about EWB, attended a meeting, and became interested in working alongside professionals, such as Caterpillar engineers.”

Eventually, Abou-Hanna accepted more of the chapter’s leadership responsibilities, becoming captain of the water treatment team and then of the implementation team. He became president in January, just in time to lead 10 of the 30 Bradley engineering majors who have worked for almost two years on the designing and fundraising of a $35,000 potable water system for a community in northern Guatemala this spring.

“EWB is a global organization somewhat like Doctors Without Borders,” he explained. “Instead of treating people here, we make them more efficient in their own environments. For example, we’re building a self-sufficient water treatment system to help the community successfully take care of itself. Self-sufficiency is vital; we want to give them the tools and know-how to enjoy inexpensive, clean water — something we take for granted every day.”

With applying to medical school on his horizon, Abou-Hanna’s interests lie in medicine and technology. He believes many medical problems can be solved at the intersection of engineering and medicine.

As a teen, Abou-Hanna traveled on missionary trips but said his attitude to serve has changed as he’s matured: “Rather than focus on the feel-good aspect of philanthropy, I ask myself, ‘What would be most effective and beneficial for the most people?’ It’s hard to maintain this mindset, but I fortunately am part of an outstanding team of Bradley engineers that makes it easy.”