Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Science Unwrapped Wraps up for the Semester

Science Unwrapped April 7 at 7pm!

Engineers Without Borders Utah State University Chapter (EWB-USU) spends a lot of time focusing on helping other countries through education and service. But they also want to help their local community. Many members of EWB-USU, like our Outreach Coordinator Amanda Stoudt, volunteer at Science Unwrapped, an event the College of Science puts on once a month.

Members of EWB-USU teaching children
Science Unwrapped is held once a month and features a keynote speaker followed by games and activities fit for all ages. Everyone, no matter the age or scientific background, is encouraged to attend the events. The free events are held in the Eccles Science Learning Center Emert Auditorium, room 130 and generally start at 7 p.m.

Friday, April 7th at 7 p.m., will be the last Science Unwrapped event of the current semester. Wildlife ecologist Dan MacNulty will be presenting "Timid Predators, Scary Prey: Why Wolves are Wimpier than you Think." Partnering with research scientist L. David Mech and Yellowstone National Park Wolf Project Leader Douglas Smith, MacNulty wrote the book "Wolves on the Hunt: The Behavior of Wolves Hunting Wild Prey" in order to understand these feared creatures. His presentation will dispel some preconceived notions about wolves.

We hope to see everyone there! For more ways to get involved please visit EWB-USU's website at http://ewb.usu.edu

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Get pumped for our 5K!

We are getting ready for our third annual 5k fundraiser run! This year’s 5k will be on April 22 (Earth Day!) at 9am. Every summer two teams travel to Mexico and Peru to implement humanitarian projects such as water filters and livestock shelters. This fundraiser is used to help cover the travel expenses and materials for those trips.
Tickets will cost $10 and all participants will receive an Engineers Without Borders tee shirt. The race starts at the Engineering building on the Utah State University campus and will wind through the rest of the campus. We have lots of great prizes and encourage everyone to come whether you are a serious runner or just looking for some casual exercise in the sunshine.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor please contact Meg Licht at lichtenup@gmail.com

Race Course 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How EWB-USU gave a Mexican village clean water

EWB-USU students with some of the La Salitrera villagers
The small agricultural town of La Salitrera, México is home to about 100 people. The community has few water sources, including the river that runs through the village and a couple of wells. The most reliable well is two miles west of the town itself. Usually, La Salitrera receives water from that well every three days, but at times it has gone without water for extended periods. Besides lacking a constant water source, the village’s water is often contaminated. There are 20 micrograms per liter of arsenic in the water and other bacteria that can cause illnesses.

Starting in 2009, the Engineers Without Borders Utah State University chapter (EWB-USU) has worked with the community members to come up with a solution to their water issues. The solution? Biosand filters.
Villager adding water to the filte

Villagers adding cement to a biosand filter

The filters use layers of gravel and sand, and a layer of microorganisms, called a biofilm, to treat the water. Learn more about biosand filters and how they work here: http://biosandfilters.info/technical/fact-sheet-biosand-filter

Typically, biosand filters don’t remove arsenic from water, so EWB-USU Team Mexico had to modify them. Using locally available materials such as concrete, washed sand, PVC pipes, and rusty nails, the team created filters to fit the community’s needs. The nails were used to rid the water of arsenic by placing them on a diffuser plate which allowed clean water to pass through and arsenic and bacteria to be removed.
Biosand filter
Filter in La Salitrera

In 2014, EWB-USU students and mentors traveled to La Salitrera with the goal of constructing three filters. With the community’s help, they were able to build twice as many. The community stopped their normal daily tasks in order to help the students. The students with the help of the community put built the filters and taught them how to maintain them. Biosand filters need to have water added every day in order to maintain the biofilm layer, so this was one of the most important aspects to teach to the community. Students held meetings to teach the community how to use the filters, and they went to individuals’ homes to answer and help with any specific questions or issues.

Villager gathering sand from the river
Villagers gathering sand

The biosand filters have more a huge difference in the community. If you would like to learn more about the types of projects EWB-USU focuses on please go to: http://ewb.usu.edu

Family with their biosand filter

Monday, March 6, 2017

EWB-USU helps Peruvian alpaca farmers

EWB-USU with Peruvian farmers in a completed shelter

The Utah State University chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-USU) has been working on alpaca shelters in La Union, Peru since 2013. As the weather gets colder, many of the baby alpacas and sheep die, which severely impacts the farmers’ livelihoods. The EWB-USU  Peru Team wanted to reduce that problem.

EWB-USU measuring poles to be used on shelters
Coming up with the shelter design took about two years. The team needed something portable, sturdy, made from locally-available materials, and easy to assemble and repair. Once they found the preliminary  design, the team traveled to La Union in 2015 to build the first prototype. Over the next year, the community tested the prototype and provided feedback so the design could be refined.  In 2016, the team helped the community install three more shelters using the updated design, purchased the materials to build eight more, and provided the community with instructions to assemble the shelters. The shelters are made of an aluminum frame with a canvas tarp covering and are staked into the ground.  

This upcoming summer (2017) the team wants to improve the design of the shelter doors, which don't go all the way to the ground. In addition, the team wants to help the community to build many more shelters, and make any repairs or adjustments needed to the existing shelters.

If you are interested in learning more or joining the team, please visit our website at http://ewb.usu.edu

Setting up the aluminum poles

Our new domestic team!

Engineers Without Borders at Utah State University (EWB-USU) has long helped villagers in Mexico and Peru, but a new domestic team is start...