The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Engineers turn humanitarian

Many members of the small Mexican village of Las Molvinas are dying at this moment of easily avoidable viral and bacterial diseases because of their lack of access to clean drinking water. Engineers Without Borders, a newly formed organization here at SMU, plans to use their skill set to aid the Mexican villagers. Believing the adage that those with the ability to help others in need, should in fact do so, the group plans to build a solar distillation system this summer to help improve the quality of water and life for the families in the village.

The Engineers Without Borders chapter here at SMU was started last year and is part of the larger national Engineers Without Borders humanitarian effort. It is a program designed to partner with developing communities worldwide in order to improve their quality of life through the implementation of sustainable engineering projects.

According to Kristin Mannino, president of the SMU chapter of Engineers Without Borders, the group is a great outlet for engineers to use their skills for the betterment of people around the world.

“You get to apply what you learn in the classroom in a way that makes a real difference in people’s lives,” Mannino said.

The group has plans to travel to the village of Las Molivinas in August to implement its design for solar distillation water purification. The system involves pouring in non-potable water and allowing for the sun to evaporate only the water into a holding tank leaving the contaminants. The result is fresh purified drinking water.

The group hopes that the insertion on purified drinking water will have lasting effects on the community.

“We hope that by providing a means of obtaining clean water that the villagers will have a higher standard of living and improve their quality of life without fear of waterborne illnesses,” said Ian McFarland, vice president of Engineers Without Borders.

Many people in the village, for the safety of their family, choose to buy bottled water. For this community, however, that presents a large economic strain. Mannino believes that the water purification system once implemented will allow villagers to focus more toward obtaining the necessities.

“[With] diseases and digestion problems associated with impure water consumption resolved, the citizens using our distillation units will be spending less money on clean water and more on necessary goods,” Mannino said.

The inspiration for the project came when members of the group, including Mannino, went to a regional conference last October. One speaker at the conference cited that over half of the world’s illnesses are the result of contaminated drinking water. Many in the group were appalled by this daunting fact.

“I was shocked when he said that,” Mannino said. “I wanted to do anything I could to help solve the water problem.”

From this the idea for the project was born. This summer the plan calls for five systems to be built in the village, an effective contribution to what many in the group hope to be a lasting and prosperous relationship with the village.

“This project does have multiple phases, we hope to continue our relationship with the village and set up many more systems in the future,” Mannino said.

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