CBET Award Achievements
Notable Accomplishments from CBET Awards

Developing a New Water Treatment System for a Honduran Village

Kristen L. Jellison, Lehigh University

Objectives: As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, engineering professionals must accept the responsibility of global citizenship.  Rigid undergraduate engineering curricula leave little time for students to participate in real-world engineering design projects that target specific problems faced by developing countries.  Since sustainable engineering solutions cannot be developed without considering the cultural, political, and economic climate in which they will be implemented, we have enabled undergraduate engineering students to work with students of varied academic disciplines to gain hands-on experience in designing sustainable water quality solutions for the developing world.

Description: The Lehigh University chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB)-USA has begun a design project to improve the quality of drinking water for the rural Honduran village Pueblo Nuevo.  Lehigh’s EWB-USA students are working closely with both engineering and non-engineering students on campus to ensure that the design approach will be a sustainable one for Pueblo Nuevo.  In addition, Pueblo Nuevo has become a platform for university-wide international education: engineering, archaeology, and microfinance students all participated in hands-on projects in the village in May-June 2006.  The students of each discipline worked on their respective projects in the village at the same time, coming together in the evenings to share their varied experiences.  This cross-disciplinary, regionally-focused model of international education provides a richer and more engaging study-abroad experience than could be obtained with a single disciplinary group.  Lehigh engineers are exposed not only to another culture, but also to international components of other academic disciplines with which they will have to interact as future professionals.

Impact/Results: In May 2006, eight engineering students, eight microfinance students, and ten archaeology students traveled to Pueblo Nuevo, Honduras to engage in hands-on disciplinary projects.  The engineering students conducted a site assessment with respect to the village drinking water supply, gathering information about village needs and technical data to aid in the design of an improved water treatment system.  Students returned to Lehigh with enthusiasm for the design project and researched multiple design options during the fall 2006 semester.  Several students are returning to Pueblo Nuevo in January 2007 to obtain villager input on the design options, and a final design will be completed in the spring 2007 semester.  Engineering students will return to Pueblo Nuevo in May 2007 to begin implementation of the new water treatment system.

Kristen Jellison Image
Lehigh engineering, archeology, and microfinance students in Honduras, May 2006

Credit:  Kristen L. Jellison, Lehigh University

This work addresses the NSF Goals of:
(1) Discovery, through fundamental research in the science and engineering of drinking water purification in remote areas of the world, and
(2) Learning, through curricula involvement of undergraduate students in university-wide international education (in engineering, archeology and microfinance) with students of varied academic disciplines.

Program Officer:   Cynthia Ekstein
NSF Award Number:   0545687
Award Title:   Developing a New Water Treatment System for a Honduran Village
PI Name:   Kristen Jellison
Institution Name:   Lehigh University
Program Element:   1179

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This Nugget was approved by ENG on 14 February 2007 and Updated on 31 July 2008.