Students come to WPI to learn how they can make an impact on the world through engineering and science. And once they start, they can’t stop. The WPI Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a student-led organization, is a natural extension of the impressive work WPI students pursue in their Interactive Qualifying and Major Qualifying projects. This year the EWB chapter received a generous grant from Pratt & Whitney to support the group’s work in Guachthu’uq, a rural community in the highlands of Central Guatemala, where people have limited access to clean water.
EWB is a national organization, with more than 12,000 students, faculty, and professionals in chapters working throughout the world. Each chapter makes a five-year commitment to a partnering community to design and implement low-cost, small-scale replicable and sustainable engineering solutions to societal problems. WPI’s chapter is designing and implementing a water catchment system that will create a clean water source for families. It estimates the project will directly impact 39 families (207 people) and will have an indirect effect on approximately 25 more families in a neighboring community. The Pratt & Whitney grant will support the students’ future travel to Guatemala to implement their water catchment system design in two pilot homes and to educate the community about the system.
“This trip will be vital to the success of our project because it will allow us to test our design, with the aim of implementing a water catchment system in every home,” says Caryn MacDonald ’14, the chapter’s fundraising chair.
The implementation trip will follow two assessment trips by the group. The students’ efforts are also supported by their mentors, Matthew Gamache ’99 and Patricia Austin of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and their faculty advisor, Creighton Peet.