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Engineers Without Borders Preparing for Guatemala

*NOTE: This is a follow up to my first story about Engineers Without Borders. If you would like to read that story first, please follow this link.


As Americans, we take many things for granted. Sure, we may think about how nice it is to have cars or how nice it is to be able to hit the McDonald’s drive through when we don’t want to cook, but what about the things we don’t think about? Water coming out of a faucet, sufficient shelter that keeps the rain off of our heads and the ability to heat things quickly are three things that are luxuries, but do we really think of them as such?


There are millions of people worldwide who do not have these luxuries. They have to go miles for water that may or may not be clean. Some have to build fires to heat anything. Others are lucky if they can find some tin to prop up to make a roof. Helping those in ways they cannot help themselves is a key focus of the worldwide group Engineers Without Borders.


There are 276 chapters of EWB located in the 49 of the 50 United States. Oddly enough, it's not Alaska or Hawaii who are the outliers. Arkansas is the only state in the nation that does not have a chapter of EWB. Oklahoma State is one of four chapters in the state. There are two professional chapters and two university chapters, with the University of Tulsa being the other student chapter. The Oklahoma State chapter boasts around 30 regular members, all of whom are aspiring engineers looking to help those less fortunate than themselves.


This coming Spring Break, a group of 10 EWB members will head down to Guatemala to help make life better for a small community there. They will be implementing a rainwater-catchment and filtration system to help make it easier for villagers to get healthy drinkable water.


Shannon Landreville, a civil engineering junior, is the lead for the project, and said she looks forward to helping the villagers get the clean water they desperately need.


“Basically the systems will supplement the community’s water supply for their rainy season,” Landreville said. “They have water, but it’s definitely not enough.”


The system will be installed on top of pre-existing buildings, Landreville said. The water will fall into gutters on top of the buildings then run into the water-collection area. There, it will go through a filter to eliminate contaminants before settling in 55-gallon barrels for the community to use.


One of the most important things to remember while designing was to keep it simple and easy to maintain. Jacob Pekrul, a civil engineering junior, was driven to join this project when he found out how bad the situation was.


“Here in the United States we are so blessed with the infrastructure we have and the fact that we have water so readily available,” Pekrul said. “We just take that for granted and not a lot of people really appreciate that fully for what it’s worth.”


While most students can’t wait to get home for final break in the Spring semester, these 10 people will sacrifice their break to help the less fortunate and put their talents to work in some of the best ways they know how.

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