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Friday, Dec. 9, 2011
Hilda Garcia, Kyle Magazu, Lizzie Mercado, Agustine Perez, and Lisa Yabusaki are senior civil engineering majors and Roelandts Fellows at SCU. Their senior design project will focus on designing a water distribution and sanitation system for the area of Sabana Grande in Nicaragua.
Clean, potable water is a privilege that many communities are currently lacking. In this day and age and with all the science and technology available to us, it is hard to believe that such a basic necessity is so difficult to come by. Although rain is abundant and the water table is high in the area, there is a high incidence of child mortality due to unsanitary water. In the past, various designs have been attempted and implemented in the region, but periodic flooding and difficulties coordinating the maintenance of systems make it difficult to find a sustainable solution to the lack of potable water.
We will be looking into designing a pump and well system which will implement a solar-powered pump, a reinforced concrete storage tank, a pipeline network for distribution, and looking into measures for water quality and sanitation including waste disposal and resource recovery. For our system, we will also look into alternative methods and designs to withstand the periodic flooding of the area and fit into the lifestyle of the community in which our design may be implemented. We will also look into technologies that have been attempted and implemented in the region to help guide our design, such as pump and well designs and alternative components like water catchment systems.
Coming from a small Jesuit university that prides itself on its service to the underprivileged, we feel that we have been equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge from our civil engineering curriculum at Santa Clara to go into the world to make a difference and serve those who are often forgotten.
Why We’re Doing It
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, but it is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. In rural areas, there is a major lack of access to potable water. Often, women and children have to walk long distances to wait in line for water from a contaminated source. This is a problem because having to spend so much time for something as simple as water keeps them from going to school and perpetuates a cycle of poverty.
Although Nicaragua has an abundant supply of water, it is prone to periodic flooding and most areas lack a sanitation system. The surface water that the impoverished communities do have access to are often contaminated with pesticides, runoff, and waste from humans and animals. This makes it unsafe as a primary water source.
In many areas, wells are dug and the groundwater sources are tapped into as they are somewhat protected from the surface contaminants. Conservation and sustainability is not a natural part of the culture, however, and it is especially lacking in the rural areas. Industrial deforestation coupled with individuals chopping down trees for use in their homes contributes to a growing problem with the water sources available to them. Deforestation increases the runoff experienced during the flood season and decreases the amount of recharge to the groundwater aquifers. In other words, it reduces the amount of water going back into the ground and is thus slowly depleting the groundwater supply.
Possibly the most disconcerting issue that we have come across is the lack of a sanitation system in many areas in Nicaragua. Without proper disposal of wastewater, providing clean water is pointless. Wastewater, if not treated or disposed of properly, has the potential to contaminate all water sources. This is why our project will encompass everything from retrieving water from a source to taking care of it after it is used.
What We Have Done So Far
After deciding to design a water distribution and sanitation system, we needed to find a specific site to design for. We had initially made contacts in the Lower Rio Coco area, who gave us some great insight into some of the general problems of rural Nicaragua. From there, we consulted our professors who had recently visited UCA (Universidad Centroamericana) this past summer. They were able to put us into contact with a UCA representative, who has been very supportive of our project.
Later, we got the opportunity to meet Susan Kinne of Grupo Fenix
. She was also extremely supportive of our project and proposed a community that would greatly benefit from our project, if it was ever implemented. One unique point about this community was that the people there were familiar with photovoltaic technologies as they manufacture their own solar panels and utilize solar cookers in their communities. Ultimately, this pointed us in the direction of Sabana Grande, Nicaragua, the site for which we are designing our project.
Where We Are Now
Because our Senior Design Project will be focusing on a design in an undeveloped area, we must conduct a great deal of research to create an efficient and feasible design. We have received a generous grant from CSTS (Willem P. Roelandts and Maria Constantino-Roelandts Grant) and funding from the Dean of the School of Engineering (Senior Design Project Fund) to do research for our Senior Design Project. On Sunday, December 11, Lizzie, Kyle, Hilda, and Agustine will be arriving in Managua, Nicaragua, where they will continue on to Sabana Grande. There, they will be staying with host families in the village and they will conduct the necessary research for the development of our design. We are hoping to share our experiences and design process with you through this blog.
Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010
Center for Science, Technology, and Society Announces 2010 Roelandts Fellows
On November 15th, the Center for Science, Technology, and Society announced their 2010 Roelandts Fellows grants awardees. The grant program provides nearly $50,000 of support for Santa Clara University projects focused on the study and implementation of science and technology for social benefit. Twenty-two faculty members and student teams will use their Roelandts Fellows grant awards for projects as diverse as studying the impact of solar LED lighting on student learning in rural areas, engineering solar water purifiers, and on developing a mobile application to support fair trade in developing countries.
This grant program was made possible by a generous gift from Willem P. Roelandts and Maria Constantino-Roelandts. The Roelandts are long-time friends of the University. Maria is a member of the Santa Clara University Board of Fellows and Wim received an honorary doctorate from Santa Clara University in 2004. We thank the Roelandts for their generous ongoing support of the University's mission.
More about the CSTS Roelandts Fellows Grant program for 2010/11: http://wwww.scu.edu/sts/Education/grants/index.cfm
Thursday, Jun. 10, 2010
Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology and Society announces grant program for faculty and students.
SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 9, 2010 – The Center for Science, Technology, and Society is soliciting proposals for a grant program aimed at both faculty and students, with awards of up to $5,000 for faculty, up to $2,000 for individual student investigators, and up to $3,000 for student teams. The deadline for proposal submissions is September 3rd, 2010 for faculty, and October 1st, 2010 for students.
This is the Center for Science, Technology, and Society’s second year sponsoring a competition for funding to support projects that are commensurate with its mission, “to understand and enable the innovative application of science and technology for global human benefit.”
Examples of the areas of interest to the Center include, but are not excluded to:
- Investigation of the interfaces between science, technology, and society.
- Research, development, or application of science and technology for social benefit with particular interest in sustainable, clean technologies.
The program was inaugurated last year and involved awards amounting to $30,000 to support a dozen research proposals, with approximately $20,000 going to faculty projects, and $10,000 going to student projects. Recipients included two Engineering Senior Design teams who went on to put their plans in action for water filtration in rural Honduras and building design and construction in Ghana.
Applicants should submit their applications to Erin Berkenmeier (EBerkenmeier@scu.edu
) in PDF format by 5pm on the day of the deadline. Faculty proposals are due by September 3rd, 2010
, and student proposals by October 1st, 2010
. The grant program has been established by Jack Gilbert, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Santa Clara and Director of Sponsored Research at the Center. For more information and to download the application form please visit http://www.scu.edu/sts/Education/grants/2010.cfm
About the Center for Science, Technology, and Society
Founded in 1997, the Center for Science, Technology and Society is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University. The mission of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS) is to understand and enable the innovative application of science and technology for global human benefit. We pursue this mission by linking the practices of scholarship, education, and science and technology innovation, in order to foster conscientious and responsible action on behalf of those most in need. The Center's work is focused on three major activity areas: Social Entrepreneurship, Public Engagement, and Education. Within these areas, specific programs engage faculty, students, and other internal and external constituencies in fulfilling the mission of the Center. www.scu.edu/sts
About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California's Silicon Valley, offers its 8,758 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees, and engineering Ph.Ds. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master's universities, California's oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. www.scu.edu
Tuesday, Mar. 9, 2010
Shawn Khademi and Conor Roche sent in some pictures of their project progess. Thier Fall 2009 grant winning project was titled, “Use of Colloidal Nano-Gels for Enhancing Applications of Capillary Electrophoresis” where they are working to assess whether use of nano-gels as the sieving medium will decrease the time-lag associated with loading the capillary apparatus and result in a greener chemical process for preparing the required medium.
Friday, Feb. 19, 2010
Molly Duphy recently wrote CSTS:
Ryan, Mindy and I are still in the design phase of our project, so there are not many photos of our work thus far. However, Ryan made a trip to Honduras at the beginning of January to collect the design criteria necessary for us to start the design. Attached are a few of the pictures he sent me from his trip.
Currently, there are not enough pipelines and taps to be able to facilitate each house. We are designing a distribution system that will bring water directly to each house. The rest of the pictures that Ryan took on his first trip to Honduras were more to document the current conditions in Pajarillos. However, after our second trip to Honduras in late March, we will be able to share many more photos of the filtration system we are designing and installing for this community.