Professor Vinka Craver led a team of students, members of the Students for Global Sustainability Club (SGS), to Guatemala during the last part of August. The specific location was San Mateo Ixtapan, where Dr. Craver and her students, are assisting villagers for the design of a wastewater treatment plant for the local school. During the trip students collected data which are now being analyzed to develop a simple, cost-effective, treatment system to install next summer. The idea is that the plant will be simple enough to be reproduced by the villagers in the future for other applications.
Students for Global Sustainability (SGS) provides a venue for students to gain useful real world experience in emerging countries while simultaneously giving them a chance to improve the living conditions for people in need. According to Dr. Craver, adviser of the students, "We use cross-disciplinary skills to find creative, affordable and effective solutions to problems in developing areas. We then educate the citizens in the selected area so that they can enhance the solutions we brought to them for future implementation."
Students were excited to participate in this activity. According to Dan Waugh, Senior Civil Engineering Student "Traveling to San Mateo with SGS was an awesome experience that gave a practical outlet for engineering studies. Working in a third world country is eye-opening and rewarding and has shown me a way to use engineering to help the less fortunate."
Marc Vigeant, also senior, mentions that "Going to a third world country to design and install a system to treat sewage waste is not only an incredible opportunity to learn about engineering, but it is also an invaluable life experience."
Philip Virgadamo, PE, Civil Engineering alum (BS 64, MS 66) also joined the team. According to Philip Virgadamo "It was an extremely enlightening and adventuresome trip... The area is inhabited mostly by Mayan people who speak Chuj (chew). We will continue working on the project next year and hope to have an installation next summer."