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Through the efforts of Fidel Maltez ’05 Cintas Corp. donated more than 100 pounds of clothing to Engineers Without Borders (EWB) to benefit the residents of Lagunitas and La Fortuna, villages in Yoro, Honduras.

Students in Lafayette’s chapter of EWB are designing and will eventually construct clean water distribution systems, as well as irrigation, in Lagunitas and La Fortuna, which have never had access to safe drinking water.

A trip to Honduras to start implementing the Lagunitas project took place in August. That’s when the clothes were delivered. The project is scheduled to take three to five years.

“During EWB’s two previous visits to Honduras our team had struggled through clothing drives for community members,” explains Maltez, who founded Lafayette’s EWB chapter with fellow civil engineering major Matt Verbyla ’06. “The donated clothes provide short-term benefits for the community and encourage people’s commitment to the project.” Cintas has also committed to donate garments for future visits by EWB.

Maltez has been appointed health, safety, and environmental coordinator for Cintas, the largest uniform supplier in North America. The company designs, manufactures, and implements corporate identity uniform programs and provides entrance mats, restroom supplies, promotional products, first aid and safety products, fire protection services, and document management services for approximately 700,000 businesses.

“This will facilitate a relationship between Lafayette and Cintas Corporation and give students more time to work on the technical aspect of the project,” says Maltez.

Scheduled to start in January with the help of Alternative School Break Club, the work in La Fortuna is funded through a P3 grant (Student Design Competition for Sustainability) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency received recently by Sharon Jones, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and David Brandes, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Making the trip in August were Verbyla, Brandes, Arno Alarc√≥n ’06 (Delmar, NY.), a dual degree candidate in mechanical engineering and international studies; Margaret Garcia ’07 (Stamford Conn.), dual degree candidate in civil engineering and international studies; Vanessa Araujo-Lopera’08 (Woodhaven, N.Y.), who intends to major in international economics and commerce; and Ira Katz, director of mechanical engineering laboratories at Lafayette.

Engineers Without Borders honored Lafayette’s student chapter with the Education Award at its national conference last September. The group was also featured in Eastern Pennsylvania Business Journal in February.

“It is not just an engineering project, and we are not just an engineering group,” says Verbyla. “We are multidisciplinary, and this is why I feel EWB is an amazing organization. Not only does it create a more globally conscious engineer, but also brings together engineering students with students from other disciplines and community members from other cultures.”

EWB welcomes students from all subject areas to help with design, financing, logistics, translation, and other issues. Its goal is to help developing areas with engineering needs while giving students an opportunity to experience and solve real-world problems. Projects are undertaken within the framework of Jones’ Engineering and Policy Design Project course.

“As a civil and environmental engineer, Lafayette prepared me for this tremendous position,” says Maltez. “Skills such as leadership, problem-solving, and teamwork developed by the engineering program at Lafayette will allow me to exceed expectations at Cintas.”

Humanitarian interests are shared by the graduate and his new employer. Cintas recently received the Matthew 25: Ministries Appreciation Award for donating more than six million pounds of humanitarian aid to over 1 million people worldwide. The company donated more than $60,000 to East Asian tsunami disaster relief.

Categorized in: Academic News