Student engineers are honored for water project in Cameroon

Student engineers who have been working for the past five years on a project to bring clean water to a community in Cameroon, Africa, have been honored for their dedication to their cause.

The Yale student chapter of Engineers Without Borders USA received the national Engineers Without Borders (EWB)-USA Premier Project Award at a gala and reception held in conjunction with the EWB-USA International Conference, which took place in Louisville, Kentucky, last month.

The award recognizes excellence in EWB-USA projects and highlights those that deliver “high-quality, sustainable solutions to help meet the basic needs of partnering communities abroad,” say EWB-USA officials.

The students won the award for their project in Kikoo, Cameroon, which began in 2005. The community of Kikoo has historically used water from polluted streams, which are often contaminated because they lie at the bottom of large valleys and are unprotected from animal grazing, bathing and clothes-washing. Some of the most common illnesses in Kikoo are waterborne maladies, such as gastrointestinal infections and dysentery. The Yale team designed a water distribution and storage system in order to alleviate water pollution.

The team gave careful consideration to the planning of their project so that its members could complete large community-scale water systems over multiple phases. The Yale students have been back to Kikoo to confirm that the system is working and that the community is taking ownership in the overall operation and maintenance of water storage.

“After five years, five trips, nine kilometers of pipe and lots of corn fufu, we are immeasurably grateful to the community of Kikoo and our partners from the Yaoundé School of Public Works for the opportunity to grow so much as engineers by working together to improve their access to water and sanitation,” said a Yale student representative from the chapter at the awards gala.

Yale EWB — which has approximately 40 members — is led by co-presidents Dana Miller ‘12 and Antonella Lisanta ‘12, and faculty adviser Bill Mitch, associate professor of chemical and environmental engineering.

EWB-USA is a non-profit organization established to support community-driven development programs worldwide through partnerships that design and implement sustainable engineering projects. It has grown from little more than a handful of members in 2002 to over 12,000 today, and has over 400 projects worldwide. Nearly 200 colleges have established a chapter on their campuses.

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