The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The S&T campus is cold, snowy and quiet. Students, staff and faculty are poised to get away for the holidays and semester break, while Phelps County shivers in an unusually cold December.

Meanwhile the S&T student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is planning a trip to Santiago, Honduras, to complete a water purification system for the town’s 6,000 residents. Last summer the team installed a pilot chlorine pump in one of Santiago’s three water wells to see if the project could be sustainable. Remote monitoring proved the new system was successful so the January trip will complete the water chlorination program.

The team will mainly oversee this construction in an effort to encourage the people to take ownership of its maintenance and understand its design. They’ll also conduct water quality tests to monitor decreases in biological contamination due to additional chlorine.

The “gift” of which we speak is not simply a chlorine system. It’s a better quality of life, improved health for Santiago’s children, and the joy that comes to S&T students when they realize they “made a difference.”

Isn’t that what life is all about? L’chaim, l’chaim, to life! -Tevye

Who Says Engineering Faculty Don’t Have A Sense Of Humor???

That may be the case at other universities, but not at MSM/UMR/Missouri S&T!
Friday, March 8th Miner faculty and staff will put on another sort-of-annual Faculty Talent (?)Show at Leach Theatre of Castlemann Hall to benefit S&T’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB).
If you are in town you owe it to yourself to attend the 7:30 p.m. event. You’ll hear fantastic musical and dance performances, enjoy watching Ph.D.s stripped of what little pride they have, and have a heckuva good time.
As much as we’d like to see Miner parents in the audience (so long as they actually buy tickets) it may not be such a good idea to see what our hallowed (or in some cases hollowed out) professors do in their spare time. It might burst parents’ confidence in an S&T diploma.
In all sincerity, folks, EWB team members do amazing humanitarian work, bringing infrastructure engineering solutions to remote communities in Central and South America. Clean water, sanitation, and erosion control are just some of the quality-of-life challenges Missouri S&T students take on. In exchange Miners get global engineering experience and the satisfaction that they CAN make a big difference one community at a time.
Can’t make it to the show? DVDs will be available afterwards, but it’s just not the same as the real thing.
Do us a favor and send a generous check to Missouri S&T EWB. It’ll do you, our students, and the communities they serve more good than you can possibly imagine.
Thanks! And don’t miss the mermaid in the show………..

S&T Engineers Without Borders Hosts Conference, Gets Award!

EWBSUN_2151blog.jpgS&T EWB president Grace Harper is just gushing over the success of the EWB-USA Midwest Regional Conference, held at S&T this past weekend.
110 attendees from nine university teams, three professional chapters, and the MU School of Public Health gathered for a series of presentations on program quality, fundraising, recruitment, report writing, and all the other mundane activities needed to make these overseas trips possible. Technology-focused breakout sessions took up a good part of the second day, where students and faculty (even from KU!) shared some “lessons learned” from previous trips. Speakers covered everything from rebar-bending, scaffolding, insulation requirements for sewage systems, the ins-and-outs of bio-sand filters, and especially the role the local population plays in these projects’ success.
EWB-USA Executive Director Cathy Leslie presented the S&T chapter with the Midwest Region Premiere Chapter Award that recognizes excellence in EWB-USA projects and highlights projects that deliver high quality, sustainable solutions to help meet the basic needs of partnering communities abroad.
Grace says “this award recognizes chapters’ projects and technical design, outreach/PR, collaboration with professional chapters, fundraising events, and how we improved since the past year. It allows us to to compete with the other regional winners for the national premier chapter award, which will be announced in March, 2012.”
One S&T student commented that “the whole weekend people RAVED so much about S&T, the conference, our projects, and the award, it was almost embarrassing.”
Hey, if it’s the truth, why be self-consious?

Miners’ Engineers Without Borders Video Snags National Award

A short documentary film showing how Missouri University of Science and Technology students helped a village in Bolivia last summer has won the best short-form video award from Engineers Without Borders USA. The award, presented at the 2011 EWB-USA International Conference March 24-26 in Louisville, Kentucky, documents how Missouri S&T students worked to bring clean water to Tacachia, a tiny, remote community in Bolivia located in a steep valley south of La Paz, the nation’s capital. The students are members of Missouri S&T’s Engineers Without Borders chapter.
In Bolivia, the lack of clean drinking water results in the death of 1 out of every 10 children before the age of 5. The Missouri S&T EWB chapter has focused on helping Bolivians improve their water infrastructure to help change that statistic.
The S&T students visited Tacachia last July and August to install a new water distribution system. Tom Shipley, manager of video productions for Missouri S&T, traveled along with the team to record their work on film. Shipley also produced the film, titled “Engineers Without Borders: Tacachia,” which is available on the university’s YouTube site, or at the S&T EWB website
In 2009, S&T EWB students introduced the concept of biosand filtration to the community by installing 10 precast concrete filters. The team also constructed one of the needed ferro-cement storage tanks. Ferro-cement structures are typically strong and inexpensive to build, and made from a wire-reinforced mixture of sand, water and cement.
Established in 2006, Missouri S&T’s EWB chapter was the first college chapter established in Missouri. Today, there are more than 250 collegiate and professional EWB chapters in the United States.
N.B.: Think this is all S&T students do? Anna Osbourne, one of the S&T students interviewed in Tom’s video, is also a hard-working member of S&T’s Solar House Team.

What This Nation Needs, According To The National Science Foundation……

BlogEWBHondoDSC02773_2.jpg…..is “an educated science and engineering workforce capable of operating in the international research environment and a global market” if the U.S. it to remain at the forefront of world science and technology.
What does that mean? That means that our graduates must know more about other countries, languages and cultures than they catch on YouTube or the idiot box (oops! We mean Cable TV).
How do we get such a workforce? For starters, Missouri S&T has established an inter-disciplinary Global Studies minor that requires twelve hours of coursework and an international experience. You might think an overseas experience is hard to come by, but S&T students already travel the four corners of the world on internships, co-ops, and various service projects.
S&T’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is the campus’ biggest overseas program. EWB works with local governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to identify pressing infrastructure problems that impact residents’ health and safety in Central and South America. An earthquake-resistant schoolhouse in Guatemala, village sanitation systems in the remote Andes mountains, a new water well for a school in the Amazon jungle, or simple in-home water filtration system to cut down on diseases.
EWB students gladly give up part of their summer break (or Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring Breaks for that matter), and work all year to raise money and prepare for the trips. They even partner with St Louis schools to collect soap and and toothbrushes for these remote communities.
Beishlaglast.jpgThe coursework? A South American geography course shouldn’t simply be a glorified terrain walk where you learn the names of rivers and mountains. Geography determines climate, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, wildlife, clothing, textiles, food, public health, transportation, in short the entire economy of a region. At least that’s the way Dr. George Beishlag (left) at good ol’ Towson University taught it 40 years ago, and those were some of the most rewarding and memorable college courses this writer ever had.

EWB Gets Financial Support From St Louis Construction Firm

EWB $10K check.jpgTwo S&T grads, Dick Arnoldy (CE ’69, MS EMan ’73), founder and retired president of Arco Construction in St Louis, and Arco president John Komlos (CE ’85) drove down to Rolla last week to recognize the end of another successful year for S&T’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
Dick and John, far left and right respectively, arrived just in time to take part in the team’s end-of-year picnic and present a $10,000 check to EWB. Receiving the check on behalf of the student team were (left to right) president-elect Jennifer Hoffman, outgoing president Dustin Bales, and fundraising chair Grace Harper.
Arco’s support will help support the team’s annual trips to Nicaragua, Bolivia and Honduras where the students concentrate on designing and implementing clean water systems for remote villages. These trips vastly improve living conditions for a neglected part of those populations, and have an enormous impact on the S&T students who undertake this work. EWB advisor Dr. Rick Stephenson says that “these assistance trips provide S&T students with global experience, makes them realize how lucky they are to be living in the U.S., and has even inspired three students, including Dustin Bales, to join the Peace Corps to continue this work after graduation!”
Now that’s a life-changing experience!

Former EWB member now working with Engineering in Action in La Paz


Editor’s note: Will Kirby, former leader of Engineers Without Borders, is in La Paz, Bolivia, working for Engineers in Action, an American nonprofit created through the partnership of Engineers Without Borders and the Methodist Church of Bolivia. He plans to stay with the group until late May. Here’s his first dispatch:
Engineers in Action is comprised of some low paid engineers and staff, plus a handful of volunteers. I’ll mostly be helping with some of Rolla’s EWB projects in Bolivia, primarily in the office but will most likely be making a few trips out in the field somewhere. I’ll also be helping out with some other EIA projects. The hours are great. We get there anywhere 8:30 and 9 a.m. We typically head home for lunch just after 12 p.m., which all in all takes almost two hours. Then quitting time is about 5:30 p.m. I could get used to it, I think.

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S&T EWB team prepares to head home from Honduras

Patricia Hallier of Oak Grove, Mo., a sophomore in chemical engineering, gives the EWB team’s update on their experience in Honduras.

IHondo Dos 061.jpgt’s Saturday and we’ve just completed the last of our projects in Santiago. On Wednesday we added ferrocement to the entire 5,000 gal tank and laid most of the piping. It was a long day, but after that most of the work was accomplished. The next few days we spent finishing piping and sealing the tank and completing our rainwater collection systems.
The rainwater collection team was able to set up systems at two different locations as examples for the locals. We will continue to work with them after we leave by funding 10 houses at a time until all 36 families have a system set up. What we set in motion will improve the living conditions for this community dramatically because currently they have no way of obtaining clean water.
The rainwater project will provide the people of Santiago with more water, but still not of a high quality. Two more rotary biosand filters were purchased and placed in the church and the home where the rainwater collection systems were installed. A few of the filters installed earlier in the week had a few problems, so they were replaced with working filters for the families to use. Dr. Raul, the area’s mayor as well as medical doctor will continue to check on the success of the filters, and that they are being properly maintained and used. If all goes well, we plan on providing the community with more filters, and will send the educational materials that we have made to the community leaders, to better help them instruct the community of their use.
Hondo Dos 129.jpgThis afternoon we had a meeting with community leaders to discuss the results our trip, the findings of our assessment team, and future plans. They expressed appreciation for what we’ve been able to do and that we completed it in the time here. It was sad to say goodbye to the friends we made and take the last drive back to Pimienta over the mountain. Tomorrow we´ll see San Pedro Sula and get ready to leave. We’re definitely looking forward to coming back to Santiago next year.

Missouri S&T EWB team in Honduras prepares for cementing, soccer

Will Kirby of Elkhorn, Neb., a senior in architectural and environmental engineering at Missouri S&T, reports the progress of the 18-member Engineers Without Borders team. The students are working to implement an additional water storage tank, rainwater collection systems, and slow-sand-drip water filtration systems for a community of 7,000 in Honduras.

Today was day four in Santiago, Honduras, day three of work. Excellent progress has been made over the last couple days. Today wrapped up all of the preparation for the tank before the cement process begins tomorrow. It looks like it will be an early start and tiring day for all of us. And after a long day of cementing tomorrow, our boys will be playing in a soccer tournament with the local Pimienta community teams. More updates on the turnout of that subject to follow.
Hondo 019.jpgAs for our other groups, the water filtration team met yesterday with the families who received water filters. The families also received small water storage tubs to put their filtered water in. Today, the team went to the homes and helped set up the filters and answer any further questions. We have seen a lot of excitement over the filters and hope to be able to get many more to the community soon. The team also went to the Kindergarten and high school yesterday to talk to the children about the filters. The young kids were more interested in the “gringos” than they were with the filters, but nonetheless, it was a great visit. And one of the girls at the high school requested a filter be donated to their school. So it was nice to see interest in what we are doing.

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18-member EWB team from Missouri S&T makes it to Honduras

As one group of members from the Engineers Without Borders student chapter at Missouri University of Science and Technology returned from Bolivia, another team from that chapter landed in Honduras. Eric Bayless of Sparta, Ill., a junior in computer engineering, shares some of the team’s experiences so far.
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We arrived in Honduras yesterday afternoon, exchanged our dollars into limpiras, and then met with our Washington Overseas Mission contact, Janice, for lunch. After lunch we took a bus to Pimienta, where we are staying in the nicest house in town. It’s not exactly what we were expecting — it’s much nicer — and we have been fed delicious food. We also took a short trip to Santiago for an initial meeting with the community members. We traveled to see the foundation that had been poured for the tank and took a look at the filters we are installing in some of the poorer homes.
Our first day of work began with being hauled on the back of trucks from Pimienta to Santiago.

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