UMR engineering students set their sights on Bolivia

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On August 5, 2005

While most college students are packing up to return to campus, three University of Missouri-Rolla students are preparing for a different journey — one that will take them deep into the Andes mountains

Members of UMR’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB) student chapter will leave Aug. 11 and spend eight days in Inka Katurapi, Bolivia, a tiny village of fewer than 100 people. The students will assess potential sites for future sewage and latrine systems by gathering information on water quality and soil samples.

“We will also be getting to know the people so we can continue to help them and provide more support,” adds David Longrie of Grover, Mo., a junior in civil engineering.

Once back on campus, EWB team members plan to design appropriate sewage and latrine systems and prepare for a return trip to Inka Katurapi to build the systems.

“In order for the Bolivians to maintain what we build, we will have to work with them and teach them what to do as well,” says Lindsey N. Campbell of Parma, Mo., a junior in ceramic engineering. Campbell and six other UMR students traveled to Guatemala last month to help residents rebuild their adobe homes that were destroyed in a 2001 earthquake.

“Working with the people in these countries can be an amazing, life-changing experience which is probably the most important part of EWB,” Campbell adds. “Guatemala was one of these amazing experiences, which makes me want to continue to do as many projects as possible.”

Dr. Rick Stephenson, EWB’s faculty advisor and professor of civil engineering, will travel with the students and provide guidance. The three UMR students traveling to Bolivia are:

— Leah Irwin of Belton, Mo., a senior in civil engineering

— David Longrie of Grover, Mo., a junior in civil engineering

— Jake Midkiff of Rolla, Mo., a senior in geological engineering

The UMR EWB chapter was formed this past spring. Similar to the more established Doctors Without Borders, EWB works to improve the lives of people around the world by building infrastructure such as water systems and other engineering endeavors.

For more information about the UMR EWB chapter, email Irwin at or Longrie at .

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On August 5, 2005. Posted in News