NSF Documentary: Engineering a Difference

clean water is like you don’t have clean water then you have a secret like we believe that people are getting sick from the water life and death yeah people do die from water around to drinking bad water yes horses no plumbing they wash in the stream they drink from other goods as you walk through the village and right outside this school you see that all their wash water at all their waste water is coming for the streets that’s an area where mosquitoes can breed from bring malaria and also the wastewater could have the ways that you don’t want to be in contact with this community does not have consistent electricity they don’t have running water it’s got to be a situation where we’re part of the solution matter of fact I think it’s our obligation to come up with the solutions hopefully the impact is more kids go to school because they can get there during the rainy season and get home during the rainy season this is engineering this is what an addictive couple of the solutions I’m trying make it work thank you that’s to work huh there you go clean water energy waste management transportation these are just some of the infrastructure needs essential to survival for any community student and professional members of ewb engineers Without Borders USA are working with communities in the US and around the world to improve critical infrastructure to help communities thrive that’s what people need engineers for Institute’s the problem I just wanted to do something that could make a difference in the world and I think engineering is definitely something that could lead to that it’s incredible to think what we can do as engineers to impact the world ewb USA teams are working on a water resource project in Kenya a solar power implementation in Nicaragua and a pedestrian bridge in Ghana and many other projects nomalanga Kenya is located about 200 miles northwest of Nairobi there is no plumbing in the village some people get their water from deep water wells called bore holes but others get their water from spring boxes or even more unreliable sources such as hand-dug Wells or ditches getting water can take up a big part of the day and sometimes the water is not safe to drink environmental and mechanical engineering students with the University of Massachusetts are working with the nomalanga village to obtain clean water the team must find a sustainable solution balancing long-term reliability with limited access to tools and materials eventually the team hopes to implement a new well morning the community has had quite a number of businesses dysentery diarrhea the source of the disease has been found and we found that it’s coming through water getting it clean has been the paramount objective village is great bye-bye Gladys Florence I i love the moment they’re just so welcoming and so warm and friendly and everything’s it’s really nice it’s one us being here yeah here for the clean water to kick out of this entry from our a mess thank you we had a bit happy the village leaders and the umass team plan to evaluate the quality of the community’s water resources the green they indicate Springboks and it’s green boxes and spring buses that run year-round and the pink are the spring boxes that dry up you know especially in this area and this area they don’t have reliable water source faulty um that’s you know that’s important the water sources around here they were all contaminated I mean if by our most North American strength that water really be sick in no time i would

expect our group proposes to you that you tell us what sites you want tested for potentially having it well but what we are saying is that at the end of the day the objective would be to satisfy the water requirements for the community members okay these are seven places he committed this life no ain’t no no habla mentioning me I guess what I take out of engineering is just important to be able to to learn as much as you can to give it back to people I mean that’s really why I’m doing it because at the end of the day I mean we’re giving people clean water you can’t put a price tag on that you really can it’s it’s incredible but it’s very powerful and it’s important effects lives it changes lives it’s it maintains like civil and mechanical engineering students from Rice University are heading to Al Panama Nicaragua in isolated village south of Managua the nation’s capital there is no electricity in the village the team has come up with a plan to light the village church so we can also serve as a community center the design must use locally available parts withstand torrential wind and rain and last for many years back in the United States I’ll take luxuries for granted the things I have things I eat things I do and I’ll come to Nicaragua and realize that they don’t even have lighting to light their own church at night currently if they want to run anything electric they’ve gotta rent a generator by gasoline carry it through that huge gorge get it all the way up here it’s a real undertaking and it’s quite a shock we’re able to do here but then it’s bright electricity via solar power which is a very sustainable design it just so happens to be their church building but it will become a community center for them where they can have gathering that night in speaking to community members they are very grateful for something like that meticulous over the top and a skirt on the inside yeah we’re making our final determination of where we want to place the solar panel in the way that will get the least amount of shade on it and so we get the most online at all times engineering is definitely cool you can learn all sorts of things in textbooks but until you get out here and you apply it and you start screwing pipes together and all that sort of stuff you’re not going to really be able to make a difference in the world unless you apply all that theory so that’s what engineering is really special to me the only thing we’ll be losing would be the contact here and here is for contact points I could be back in the states right now just breaking and just relaxing but being here and helping these people and seeing the kids and seeing the the gratefulness of the community is just so much more rewarding the village of giddy in Ghana Africa has no running water or toilets and no electricity during the rainy months heavy flooding prevents the villagers from using the path to the train station farmers are unable to get their produce to market children are unable to get to school and the sick are unable to get the health care they need civil structural environmental and mechanical engineering students with the University of wisconsin-platteville are designing a solution with the help of project Mentors they’ve been considering everything from a floating bridge to a cable suspension structure it’s essential that the bridge be inexpensive long lasting and easy for the village to maintain with locally available tools and materials the team has decided on a reinforced concrete pedestrian bridge but with Ghana’s rainy season coming and commitments back home in the u.s. they have to build it in only two weeks you will be part of the team that builds this bridge this entire bridge that’s in this plan so yeah it’s reinforced concrete design is expected to last for decades realistically in 50 years my children should be able to go back and visit the bridge that we helped construct and it should be in the same condition that it is today okay one thing that we got to keep in mind on this project is that we’ve got to complete it if we got things that go wrong we’re going to have to make sure that we make up that time because we can’t leave this project without having

it completed you wouldn’t normally see a bridge built and you know 12 13 days but we’re gonna get it done it has we have and the energy that the community has together it’s just really explosive and exciting to work with everyone the country has two rainy seasons and during them this little tiny stream becomes it’s not a raging river but the water is far too high for the children to make it to school the walk or anyone who is a job in the city to the train station goes from a couple hundred yards to five or six miles this bridge means a better way of life for this community absolutely they can sell their goods they can get to the city they can get to the doctor better most importantly they can get to school so hopefully you’ll be bringing up a new more educated generation the understand which is a big world out there and so the least we can do is build a bridge they can get to school it’s very emotional from the time you pull in here with the van in the morning and Cl kids coming and waving particularly emotional to me and it will be for these students meanwhile back in nomalanga village community leaders have selected sites to be tested for drilling a new well the umass team must search deep underground for a sustainable aquifer this resistivity meter looks into the ground to find majha saathi which is is clean water and so healey and it looks but into the ground to find out where the bedrock starts and where the what different soils are there and basically where the water starts because you can find out the resistivity of the soil whether its water if there’s water in it if there’s groundwater or thurs cracks in the bedrock below in other sites around the village engineering students are investigating water resource contamination chemical fertilizers and waste from grazing cattle have been impacting the groundwater we are going to be testing the water here this device measures some of the basic elements that engineers and scientists test usually amar they found no problems with arsenic or fluoride but they are also measuring other levels such as dissolved oxygen and ph ok the temperature is 23.5 8 degrees Celsius conductivity is 0 point one nine zero it’s clean it’s very clean that’s good it’s a good water with good water my recommendation would be to UM to put a fence up around this area Ida predicted exactly today ok yeah thank you this is a basic Springboks improvement behind you there is the concrete wall that acts as sort of the end of the Springboks these posts by going up all the way around in a nice big wide radius to control animals from walking right on top of this area here then eventually is going to be mounted it keeps the water source cleaner so it doesn’t get the bacterial infiltration thank you for helping this type of work being able to impact people this way I mean I can’t think of anything more important anything more satisfying to go home at the end of the day and really feel like you did something that matters it’s this type of work that that is why I like being an environment on engineering because you get to go in the field and take water samples climb in and out of ditches study springs and and do hands-on work water is a serious problem in Kenya and most of Africa so we’re hoping hoping to help them as much as we can yeah people do die from water around to drinking bad water it does bring a seriousness to our project yeah we drink water but when we drink they upset I was Tomas we catch karela and you can equal and that ipod from work from work from water because it is impure even the child but we are community that it is pure see how the problem we have need to drink when because there is no way out there is no way out here we are in the village in Nicaragua meeting locals and having lunch with them as chickens and pigs run through the dining room and building a solar

panel that are really help them in a profound way I supposed to have a potential of 20 volts and to have a current to maybe for amp so you are making sure that was a yes it works which is good news for us because it’s a new year’s eve so we wouldn’t really be able to go back to Managua get a solar panel so panel working is good news this is pretty much the moment we’ve been waiting for it is just get it up in the air now we gotta get the concrete yet and just make sure it stays that way yeah yeah drop and then we’ll do favorite mm good good it’s been good I’ll game we’re working hand in hand and learning a lot from each other I think yeah everybody’s pretty pretty hyped and we’re ready to get this finished yeah battery oh my god we don’t got to worry at all now that the battery works it’s time for the moment of truth yeah can we do it together know how to count down tres dos uno nada is it the wiring the solar panel the battery well I’m disappointing I’m not gonna lie but hopefully we’ll be able to figure out what the problem is before we leave today so then tomorrow we can implement the solution if I don’t even want to think about it something goes wrong you know the first floor that we do in any community is complete pandemonium and this probably looks a little bit crazy too but takes a while for everybody to figure out what their role is and then after you everybody figures it out it almost is like a little ballet probably a third of our workforces children and probably decades later they’ll be talking about oh yes I’ll build this bridge up to now the weather has been cooperating but after an unseasonable rain puts a halt to the bridge work the engineering students and villagers must put in grueling 12-hour work days it’s crucial every concrete pour without a day of rain if we can get in with rain and successful and no failures and the equipment it’s a successful day heart stop once you start pouring concrete if you have to stop due to a failure its kind of disaster 12 agree to help make up time the team divides into smaller groups working on different parts of the bridge simultaneously oh my study I think the whole idea of building this bridge was to enable kids to be able to go to school regularly families wanted to travel to the nearby urban areas to engage themselves in economic activity and they couldn’t do that some wanted to access you know health facilities and they couldn’t do that so this bridge I think is going to go a long way you know to improve your the quality of fire for the community having kids tell me how they’re going to be able to go to school everyone goes to school in America basically to have a place like this where it’s a privilege for them to go to school and for us to give them the opportunity to go to that school it’s it’s just amazing with a reprieve from the rain the team and the bridge are back on track but storm clouds still loom on the horizon as Kenya’s presidential election draws near the UMass engineering team has returned back to campus to review water testing data and to design the new well for nomalanga village we found presence of bacteria in the water and we have some numbers however we need to work a little bit more to understand how we can diminish these numbers we don’t have to carry our water for two miles we don’t have to boil our water in order to make it safe to drink I calculated all the flow rates that we had taken in January um and compare those to the ones that we took in March and put them on on a map it flows are all our spring boxes goes flow rates and liters per minute so you

have 310 up here and then there’s a nice concentration around keifa and nimah longa 115 hundred and sixty there are a few challenges we have to find a drill company will need to figure out which type of pump will be best because we do not want to drive the aquifer that will be getting the water from and also the village would really appreciate if we learn kiswahili better for the future trip they are very smart people in in an area where they just don’t have frankly the money to put something together even though the resources are available to do that um so there’s some challenges a final drunk day is Kenya at supporting the opposition candidate white integra post-election violence in Kenya results in the deaths of more than 1,500 people many thousands are displaced transportation and other critical infrastructure are affected with the situation still volatile the engineering students are not allowed to travel back to the village but they are able to coordinate the implementation of the well from the US communicating mostly by email eventually the travel restrictions are lifted and the students are able to return to nomalanga as the village celebrates the new well