Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m involved with USC’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, a national non-profit organization that provides engineering solutions to problems in developing countries. The USC chapter is currently working on two different projects aimed at bringing clean water to two neighboring villages in rural Honduras.
I work with the village of Corral de Piedra, where we have designed a rainwater catchment system to serve the community’s schoolhouse. This past January, I traveled to Honduras for our final assessment trip, where we gathered information about materials, contractors, rainfall, and site specifications (such as the height of the schoolhouse, or the elevation of the water tank location). When we got home, we set to work on completing our design, and submitting it to EWB Nationals for technical approval.
This Spring Break was a particularly fun trip, because it marked the beginning of the implementation phase of our project. Now, instead of spending a week meeting with potential contractors and materials suppliers, we were bending rebar and pouring concrete. It was such a great experience to see our design come to fruition, as well as a huge learning opportunity as we saw the ways that our design had to change and adapt based on the actual conditions we faced. For example, when we arrived on site, the excavation had been done… but not quite to our specifications. Because of that we had to make last-minute changes, and then recalculate everything to make sure that our foundation was still secure.
By the end of the week, we had poured our entire 20ft x 20ft foundation where the water tanks will ultimately sit. We got the chance to work alongside many members of the community as they helped us mix and pour concrete, and we even shared coffee and life stories. I can’t wait until we finish the gutter system and can move on to later phases of our project!