The Case Western Reserve University chapter of Engineers Without Borders recently spent nine days in Cruce de Blanco, a village of about 600 in the rural mountains of the Dominican Republic, where the students will construct a new water system.
The group of four Case Western Reserve students—two engineering majors and two public health majors fluent in Spanish—and two professional engineers spent the nine-day assessment trip exploring various possible sources of clean, fresh water and discussing options with the community.
In addition to meeting with city leaders and villagers, the students spent days hiking to and from and analyzing different waters sources, taking GPS data and collecting water samples.
The chapter plans to begin building the system the community selected in May. The miles of pipeline, filtration, storage and other components will bring clean drinking water from a mountain stream to the village.
"It will be an interesting and challenging system to design and implement," said Brian Tietz, secretary of the university's Engineers Without Borders.
The Cruce De Blanco community's current source of fresh water is nearly 10 years past its expected lifetime and was abandoned by a construction company that decided to build a hydroelectric dam in the area, according to Tietz.
This is the third time the university's chapter of Engineers Without Borders has traveled to Cruce de Blanco, spending two days there in August 2006 and a week in March 2007. All three trips have been focused on designing and building the new water system.
Engineers Without Borders always accepts new members and will meet for the first time this semester at 6 p.m., Tuesday, January 22, in Thwing Center. Students interested in joining the group also can e-mail Tietz. Additional information is available on the chapter's Web site.
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