Prior Class Projects

2013: Water filtration demonstration system in Martissant Park, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Haiti suffers from a severe lack of basic public works infrastructure. Water supply and sanitation in Haiti is the lowest in the western hemisphere, where 40% of the population lacks access to a clean water supply, and 80% lacks sanitation services. Furthermore, 88% of the population lacks regular, legal access to electricity. Martissant Park is a 17-hectare park located in Martissant, a district of Port-au-Prince. The Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty (FOKAL) acquired Martissant Park in 2008 and is currently working to make it a resource for the community. The park includes an area for the public to enjoy, an area dedicated to local flora (including medicinal plants), a botanical garden, and an environmental sciences center. The park contains three springs, which could serve as a much needed water supply for the community. It is located between the mountains and sea level, so storm water flooding is a big problem.  Storm water management is needed and could serve as an alternate way to address water supply. Furthermore, the park, like the surrounding areas, has unreliable access to electricity.

Project involved the development of a water demonstration project in Martissant Park that promotes education, provides clean water, and can be locally maintained, repaired, and replicated. The project should include a detailed cost analysis as well as instructions on implementation, operation, and maintenance.

Note that this project featured Robbie Cholnoky (son of John Cholnoky in our class) as one of the project participants!

2012: Cost-effective water delivery system in Fond des Blancs, Haiti including replacing the existing system with a new efficient pump

The Saint Boniface Haiti Foundation (SBHF) required a permanent solution for their unreliable water pump system in the rural village of Fond des Blancs, Haiti. This pumping system supplies a distribution network that provides water to a portion of the community for daily activities such as bathing, washing, and cooking. The ENGS 89/90 team worked in close coordination with SBHF to identify the problem behind this unreliability and began developing an effective solution for improving access to water. The pump system suffered from breakdowns and consequently failed to meet the needs of those relying on this system. Based on contact with SBHF staff in Fond des Blancs it is clear that the unreliability of this system was the most pressing problem with respect to water access in the community. Both SBHF and the community of Fond des Blancs lack the resources and skills to solve this problem independently, creating a need for engineering consultation, which will also be provided by the ENGS 89/90 team.

The broad goal of improving access to water requires that the team properly defines the scope of the problem. By working with SBHF to understand the social, market, and technical issues behind this problem, the team began to develop an appropriate space in which to determine the most effective solution. This was carried out through a methodical consideration of various alternatives that helped to identify the most appropriate strategy through a series of parameters. Identifying the pump system as the most critical component of the overall water system, and the linkage as the most unreliable piece of that component, led to its selection as the initial primary focus for the team.The student project headed by our classmate John Cholnoky’s son Robbie who also visited Haiti to collect data on the existing system and work on a more effective solar powered pumping system and recommend how St. Boniface can reduce erosion and better protect the pipes from breaking.

2011: Low-cost waste management system in Haiti to integrate with a $300 house

As a result of inadequate sanitation systems, 60% of Haitians do not have access to clean drinking water, 90% of children in Haiti have intestinal parasites or other waterborne diseases, and 72% of deaths in Haiti are caused by communicable diseases like cholera and hepatitis (in addition to tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS).  The project involves 3 parts:  first is to design a system that allows waste to be removed and sustainably disposed of in a simple, time efficient and sanitary manner. This design will mitigate contact with human waste to reduce the stigma involved in maintaining the system. The second solution will attempt to create novel ways of treating pathogens in human feces because current methods generally render waste uninhabitable for microbial communities and prevent the return of nutrients to the environment. The third and final proposed solution is to redesign an American aerobic composting toilet. Modern composting toilets are odorless, degrade pathogens, require a minor amount of regular labor and achieve rapid degradation and significant consolidation of waste but can cost upwards of $1500. This design will incorporate local materials, cost as little as $40 and be simple enough to be constructed by someone with little to no building skill.

2010: Pico Hydro facility in Rwanda

In 2005, only 11% of Tanzanians had access to electricity. Although most households burn firewood or coal for heat and lighting, this contributes to severe deforestation and indoor pollution. Electricity, which avoids these issues, is a preferable means of improving productivity and educational opportunity by extending the length of the workday and powering appliances that improve quality of life. Therefore, rural electrification is an important focus of humanitarian groups.

Focus of the project was to revamp an existing small-scale hydropower system to improve the electricity generation through a more efficient turbine design.

This project won the Special Faculty Award for Academic Excellence and Service to Humanity, which is awarded annually to recognize a student, or team of students, in any degree program, for exemplary achievement related to the application of engineering in service to society.

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