Building a Miner nation

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Bradley Distler of Jefferson City, Mo., a senior in civil and architectural engineering, gets assistance from a child in Tacachia, Bolivia, where the team has been working on a water distribution system. Photos submitted

Sometimes it takes a community to care for a village …

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Chiara Sulze of St. Louis (left), a senior in civil and architectural engineering, and Jennifer Hoffman, a 2011 aerospace engineering graduate, work to turn barrels into biosand filters.

 

And that’s exactly what members of Missouri S&T’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) have been doing for the past eight years with communities in Bolivia, Guatemala and Honduras.

Although the group’s projects vary, they all are focused on helping disadvantaged communities access clean water, providing sanitation and making other life-saving improvements. For the students, EWB provides an opportunity to use their skills to transform people’s lives.

Chiara Sulze, a senior in civil and architectural engineering, credits EWB for teaching her how to identify problems and find feasible solutions to “really make a difference.” This summer, she’ll make her second trip to Tacachia, Bolivia, where she’ll lead the team on its sixth trip to the village.

“I have been given so much, it is important that I give back, especially to people who simply weren’t lucky enough to be born into a community with potable water,” she adds.

She’s not alone. Ryan Hoff, a senior in mechanical engineering from St. Paul, Mo., says EWB has changed his perspective of developing countries.

Hoff is leading the team on its fifth trip to Nahualate, Guatemala.

“They are extremely hard working and they have so little, but they are still very happy and always willing to help,” Hoff says. “I have learned not to take for granted what we have.”

EWB president Grace Harper, a graduate student who earned her bachelor’s degree this year in geological engineering, has been involved with the organization since she was a freshman. She has already been to Santiago, Honduras, with the team three times during her college career and will return this summer.

“This has been the most rewarding experience I have had at S&T, as I have learned a great deal about project management, engineering and another part of the world,” Harper says.

by Mindy Limback

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From left to right (wearing flowers), top row: Michael Wells, Evan Menkes, Clint Brown, Dr. Mark Fitch, Bradley Distler, Joan Crawford, Dave Hoffman; Second Row: Chiara Sulze, Maria Heath, Brandon Quinn, Justin Levy; Bottom row: Jennifer Hoffman, Stephanie Fitch, Rachel Fiest, Afnan Agramont

 

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