Engineering Without Borders partners with developing communities to help improve their quality of life by implementing economically and environmentally sustainable engineering projects. EWB recently attended the EWB Assessment Trip in Pune, Maharastra, India. Their presentation was about designing a way to supply drinking water to rural villages, which was under the advisor of Dr. Edward Kavazanjian, an expert in waste containment systems and infrastructure development. We asked the members to share some details about their research and experience.
In layman terms, what was the conference about?
Allen Crowder: The EWB-ASU interntional project is working with NGOs in the city of Pune to provide rural villages in the surrounding areas with a steady supply drinking water. This trip was the second assessment trip for the project, during which the team of 6 students and one mentor collected surveying data of the two sites and surveyed the villagers regarding their water supply needs
Brianna Chavez: EWB has partnered with the Rotary Club of Pune-Kothrud to determine a water resources need in the rural communities surrounding Pune city. It is EWB’s future goal to then use engineering skills to design and implement a solution to the need. This most recent trip was to collect data and connect with residents in the communities we wish to work in. EWB believes that sound data and strong connection with the community will lay a strong foundation for a successful project.
Dylan Arnest: EWB students traveled to Pune, India to perform topographical surveying and water quality testing in 2 communities who are suffering from clean water shortage throughout the year. The purpose of the trip was to collect data so that the student team could spend the next academic year designing a water system that can improve the community’s access to clean water.
Smita Gopalakrishnan: The event was about our team’s goal of building a water pipeline system in communities in Pune, India. This event was an assessment trip, where we had the opportunity to visit each community and survey the land, test the water quality, and talk to the villagers about the project.
What motivated you to present at this conference?
Allen Crowder: As project lead, I have a strong commitment to the project and I need to be at the forefront of all actions, not just trips, regarding our India project.
Brianna Chavez: As the Project Lead for this past academic year, I was motivated to travel because I had been preparing to lead this trip and coordinating our logistics for the past two semesters. It’s fulfilling to mentor younger students, and I find great joy in organizing trips like these where students can apply their engineering education to a real world problem. In addition, I have been communicating our Rotary Club partner for a year, and I was happy to shake their hands and thank them in person for their support.
Dylan Arnest: As a freshman engineering student, I was interested in joining EWB because I want to work on humanitarian projects. After spending all year working on documentation and learning how to survey, I was eager to use the skills I had learned from EWB.
Smita Gopalakrishnan: I have been a part of the ASU club Engineers Without Borders for the past year, working with my peers to design a water pipeline system. Being able to travel and visit the communities was an incredible opportunity to apply my engineering skills to a hands-on experience, experience a different culture and setting, and learn more about the field of engineering.
Prabhav Pathak: This event was an opportunity for me to learn, get experience on the field, and make my contribution towards my community.
What would you say was the best part about the conference?
Allen Crowder: Handing out Frisbees to the village children in our free time. I taught them to play monkey in the middle (despite the fact that they didn’t speak English) and they seemed ecstatic to have a game to play with. They later returned using the Frisbees as plates with berries in them, which they had collected for us. I’m usually not an emotional person, but it really warmed my heart.
Brianna Chavez: For me, the best part of the trip was our two days spent in community collecting data. The students had spent many hours learning how to survey and use the mineral kits. I think we were all happy to finally apply the skills we had developed over the spring semester. In addition, we were able to sit with the community to eat, talk, and discuss our shared goals for the future. I really enjoyed being a part of that cultural exchange.
Dylan Arnest: My favorite part of the trip was when we sat down to meet with the community. They were very kind and taught us a lot about their community.
Smita Gopalakrishnan: The best part of the event was being able to interact with the villagers in the communities, and seeing how much of an impact we potentially had on these individuals.
After attending this event, what is your organization’s plan for the future?
Allen Crowder: We will continue to design a pump/filtration system for the project, and will hopefully return next may to construct the first phase.
Brianna Chavez: Unfortunately, as chapter president, I will not be able to devote as much time to this project as I will have other responsibilities on behalf of the club. But I hold much respect for the new project leads, and I am confident they will organize further opportunities for our members to travel. For the project, the next step is to use the assessment data gathered and begin designing a solution. This is the longest, but also the most fun part of the project process because members get to use the skills they learn in class and be creative.
Dylan Arnest: I would love to travel internationally with EWB again! I had a great experience meeting the community and collecting data with my team. I am excited to be a part of the design process and work with our community partner.
Smita Gopalakrishnan: Our plan for the future is to take the data we collected for the trip and analyze the feasibility and specifics of the project. In addition, we plan to work more on designing the actual pipeline system with the information obtained. I do plan on taking part in future similar events.
Prabhav Pathak: We would first have to determine whether this project is in our scope to work on or not, as taking on such a project is a huge responsibility for us as college students. I do plan on taking part in similar events in the future.
Is there anything you wish you knew before attending the conference?
Allen Crowder: I certainly wish I knew some Marathi or Hindi, since it was extremely valuable to have two team members who were able to translate for us.
Brianna Chavez: I wish I had known about the swiftness of the monsoon season before deciding to travel in May. We were able to carry out all of our field assessments, but the rain nearly cut our plans short.
Smita Gopalakrishnan: I wish I was more familiar with the communities we visited prior to the trip, which could have helped me better understand our project.
Prabhav Pathak: I wish I knew how much I needed to spend on this event to be able to make the trip.
Any suggestions for other students regarding conferences?
Allen Crowder: It’s a tough trip, with the two day long travel time and the searing heat, but staying committed to the project will be an extremely rewarding experience.
Brianna Chavez: I have traveled internationally quite a bit both with and without ASU programs. I know that traveling to a new country can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. My best advice to any student planning to travel abroad is to prepare for anything! But also to know that there will always be something you didn’t prepare for, and you’ll grow as a person because of it.
Dylan Arnest: I think every student should travel! I had an amazing experience and learned a lot. My advice would to just be open to new things.
Smita Gopalakrishnan: For events like this, I would suggest other students to plan beforehand for travel, understand the core of the material discussed with the team before attending, and actively participate in the various tasks presented at the site.
Prabhav Pathak: Plan every detail of your trip, and be prepared for any situation that you might have to face.