EWB receives grant for water filtration system

Engineering project involves cleaning water supply for island community in Panama

Last week, RPI’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders received a $10,000 grant from the School of Engineering to “continue [their] water filtration and storage project in Panama.” This project will be implemented in several stages, following their recent assessment stage.

The purpose of the project is “to develop clean water for Isla Popa II, an island community in the northwest province of Panama.” The community is home to approximately 250 individuals, who currently have very limited access to clean water. This lack of clean water is due to scarcity, as well as both bacterial and metallic pollution. They explained that the hope is to “improve the health of the community.”

The group is now looking into water collection and purification systems. They will then design the actual system and present it to EWB’s national office in Boulder, Colorado. If the office approves of the design, RPI’s chapter will then begin the implementation phase. The inhabitants of Isla Popa II will assist them with the financial side of the project. EWB members will work closely with these inhabitants to correctly construct the system.

RPI’s School of Engineering recently began a program titled “Dean’s Grants.” This program is comprised of multiple categories, including Global Initiatives, Undergraduate Research, and Social Entrepreneurship. According to EWB-RPI’s officers, “The program supports developing and expanding participation in international collaborations that directly benefit students.” The $10,000 award the organization has received will go toward funding the design and construction of prototypes of the water supply system, as well as a trip in 2013 to begin the physical implementation of the system.

In regard to the organization itself, the officers stated that the three main purposes of the organization are: “to use [their] engineering knowledge to help people in developing countries,” “to create sustainable and environmentally friendly designs,” and “to help students at RPI expand on their global perspective, cultural and engineering education.”

Although this is currently EWB-RPI’s only international project, they have had several other projects over the past few years. Their latest, which occurred last fall, involved assisting the New Lebanon Middle School. With the help of EWB-RPI, the students of the school won a Future Cities engineering competition.

For more information about EWB-RPI and its projects and goals, visit their website at http://ewb.union.rpi.edu/. Questions regarding the organization, as well as about joining, fill out their contact form on their website, or contact EWB-RPI Secretary Kammi Shah ’14 at shahk4@rpi.edu.