Students take on water

A group of Rowan University students and staff will soon travel to El Salvador for a project that will provide something many people take for granted: clean water.

The Engineers Without Borders effort will supply clean water for a community of 118 homes.

Five engineering students and two faculty members will head to Caserio El Amaton from Aug. 25 through Sept. 2 to begin the groundwork for the plan. They will need to find a water source, study well capacity and water quality, and survey the land to design a water system to bring clean water to the village.

Engineers Without Borders, a nonprofit humanitarian organization, partners with developing communities worldwide to improve their quality of life through sustainable engineering projects.

Villagers get unfiltered water in a time-consuming process at a public faucet or walk up to 2 miles to get water from a stream, said Josh Wyrick, a Rowan assistant professor.

The contaminated water can cause skin and gastrointestinal diseases from bacteria and parasites. Boiling the water only helps so much, Wyrick said.

The group is eager for their first trip of this kind abroad.

"It's just a really great way to give back. I'm looking forward to meeting the community and getting to know them," said Josh Wyrick, a Rowan assistant professor.

The group plans to return in the winter to build the first part of the system and finish the project in the spring, said Dustin Kuzan, a Rowan senior from Cherry Hill.

Kuzan said he became more involved with Engineers Without Borders after attending a national conference last fall.

"The conference was the single most motivating thing for me. It was just really inspiring," Kuzan said.

Rowan has sent groups to Thailand and Honduras since January 2004, said Yusuf Mehta, a Rowan engineering professor who began the program there. Mehta went on the two previous trips but will not go on the trip to El Salvador.

"Being out there and seeing the community really changes (students') perspective . . . They want to continue helping any way they can," he said. "I feel fortunate that I can give them that experience. I cannot give that to them in the classroom."

Rowan's Engineers Without Borders club raises money for the trips from corporate donors and fundraisers on campus. The school also provides some support.

"I'm pretty excited about helping people," Kuzan said. "We're going to survey the community to make sure we give them something they want and like."

Other members of the Rowan team are students Jared Krause, Mary Wellspeak, Carolyn Braun, David Santiono and Professor Zenaida Gephardt.

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Date Published: Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - 01:00
Source URL: Courier-Post