"I still can't believe it," said the University of Mississippi senior civil engineering and economics major from La Paz, Bolivia. "I am very humbled by it. I'm thankful for the School of Engineering and its commitment to EWB, for our chapter and for all the opportunities I've had by being involved with EWB-USA. I'm so happy!"
Mariaca is among 12 recipients of the coveted award, which recognizes students' dedication to academic excellence, use of technical skills to improve living conditions in impoverished Third World countries, and proven leadership ability. More than 80 candidates applied to the program.
"I learned about the scholarship through a newsletter sent by EWB-USA that Dr. Chen periodically forwards to our chapter," Mariaca said. "The application consisted of two letters of recommendation, a transcript, an application form and one essay describing how my involvement with EWB-USA has prepared me for a professional engineering career and made me a better engineer."
Engineering faculty and administration are equally excited about Mariaca's honor.
"Pablo's winning the very competitive award reflects his passions not only for excellent academic records and self-enrichment, but also for the people around him and those in the world," said Wei-Yin Chen, professor of chemical engineering and faculty adviser for the EWB-Ole Miss Chapter. "I am happy to see that our EWB chapter has provided an opportunity for our students to stretch their characters for success."
"We are proud of Pablo, who, like many other engineering students, has strong leadership, character and a commitment to serve," said engineering Dean Alex Cheng. "The School of Engineering works closely with the Engineers Without Borders Chapter to provide the leadership, service and global opportunities to our students."
Mariaca is project coordinator of UM's EWB chapter. He was a delegate to the EWB-USA Southeast Regional workshop in Miami in October 2009 and the international conference in Denver last spring.
"Our first EWB-Ole Miss project consists of a small drinking water treatment facility in a village in Togo (western Africa)," he said. "We are planning to have an assessment trip during spring break or early summer."
EWB-USA is a nonprofit humanitarian organization established to partner with developing communities worldwide to improve quality of life. The partnerships involve implementing sustainable engineering projects while involving and training internationally responsible engineers and engineering students.
For more information about Engineers Without Borders-USA, visit ewb-usa.org. For more information about the UM School of Engineering, visit engineering.olemiss.edu or call 662-915-7407.