May 20, 2009

Easton Rotary Gives Grant to Lafayette’s Engineers Without Borders

Funds will support sustainable water projects in Honduras

The Easton Rotary Service Foundation recently awarded a grant to Lafayette’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) to support EWB’s ongoing project to bring clean water to a small Honduran village.

EWB is working to build a new water system for El Convento, a poor, rural village of about 40 families living in two-room wood and clay houses without modern conveniences. The community has been without a water system since 1998, when its previous system was destroyed by Hurricane Mitch.

The grant will be added to other funding to help make the project possible.

“The Lafayette College chapter of Engineers Without Borders shares Rotary International’s commitment to humanitarian projects, including providing clean water access to communities throughout the world. We are honored that the Easton Rotary club has provided the chapter with a generous donation to work with the community of El Convento,” says EWB faculty adviser Joshua Smith, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

Last summer, EWB students representing disciplines in engineering and the liberal arts performed an assessment for a potable water system in the village and developed several design options to present to the community for input.

In August, six students and a faculty adviser will return to El Convento to implement protection of the spring water sources from contamination and overgrowth of vegetation and to install water collection tanks.

Another trip is planned for next January, when another group of six students and a faculty adviser will build a 10,000-gallon concrete tank, which will store two days’ usage of water for the community. During that trip, the group will also begin installation of the main pipeline.

El Convento is the third sustainable water project EWB students have worked on in the country since 2003. EWB has implemented gravity-fed water systems in neighboring Lagunitas and La Fortuna. The group’s previous work garnered national media exposure for being one of six institutions to receive a $75,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

posted in Academic News, Engineering