Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Engineers Without Borders honored Lafayette’s EWB student chapter with the Education Award at its national conference last week for the group’s project to provide about 1,000 people in several Honduran villages with clean drinking water.

Eight members of the EWB chapter and adviser David Brandes, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, traveled to Honduras May 24-30 to work on the project in the municipality of Yoro. They completed a geographical survey and water quality study, attended meetings with the area water board and mayor, and made friends in the community. Biology major Diane Mitchell ’05 (Bath, Pa.), mechanical engineering major Matt Young ’05 (Burke, Va.), and A.B. engineering major Sam Gutner ’05 (Topsfield, Mass.) will discuss the trip 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Oechsle Hall room 224. The event is open to the public.

“The trip down to Honduras was amazing,” says Young. “Being able to actually see the people whom we are helping makes it all worth it.”

Adds Gutner: “The trip was a most eye-opening experience. I felt great comfort knowing that I can produce such positive change in the world.”

Other students who went on the trip are A.B. engineering major Jenny Moerschbacher ’05 (Selinsgrove, Pa.), mechanical engineering major Scott (Wes) Lane ’05 (Plaistow, N.H.), civil engineering major Fidel Maltez ’05 (Hialeah, Fla.), electrical and computer engineering major Kristen Radecsky ’04 (Flemington, N.J.), and chemical engineering major Chris Bashur ’04 (Washington, Pa.).

Moerschbacher and Lanewill give presentations on the project to the Society of Women Engineers and the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers Thursday, Nov. 11.

Maltez and Margaret Garcia ’07 (Stamford, Conn.), an EWB chapter member who is pursuing a B.S. in civil engineering and an A.B. with a major in international studies, presented the project at the EWB national conference, held Sept. 22-25 in Englewood, Colo. The event focused on capacity building in developing countries and sustainable engineering, showing students a side of engineering they do not normally encounter.

“The Engineers Without Borders national conference was an enlightening experience,” says Maltez. “With over 300 attendees from academia, NGOs, large corporations, and small consulting firms, the conference showed that sustainable development is the new focus in education and professional work. Industry is more interested than ever in engineers with experience in sustainable development – the very thing that EWB-Lafayette is teaching engineering students.”

The students on the Honduras trip made it a priority both to share knowledge with the people of Yoro and to learn from them. They prepared themselves for the trip through an Engineering Policy course taught by Sharon Jones, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, in which they conducted research and designed a water distribution system for the village of Lagunitas.

“The pedagogical value of real-world design projects cannot be overstated,” says Jones. “These projects help students realize that there are so many other factors that come into play in real-world problem-solving. These factors go beyond the strength of a material or the equations to calculate design limits. [They] have to do with the impact that the solutions have on people and their communities. These EWB students at Lafayette have gone beyond our expectations as faculty because they assumed the responsibility to help these communities in Honduras, and they recognize that they need the talents of everyone in the group — engineers and non-engineers.”

“EWB represents an extraordinary opportunity for Lafayette students to help people from another culture meet their basic needs, to understand the connections between society and technology at a fundamental level, to see the multiple effects of Westernization on a developing country, and to develop the teamwork, planning, design, engineering, and construction skills important for their careers,” adds Brandes.

Categorized in: Academic News