UMR students to help Bolivians increase water supply

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On July 21, 2006

A team from the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) chapter at the University of Missouri-Rolla will journey into Bolivia’s rainforests next month on a fact-finding mission.

The Rio Colorado Technical Agricultural High School, situated on 400 acres of rainforest in the Beni area, is a bright spot in Bolivia’s educational system, with almost 70 percent of its graduates going on to study at universities. But despite its picturesque setting, the school struggles to provide an adequate water supply to its 250 students who stay in dormitories on campus and go home only on weekends.

The UMR team’s goal is to gather enough information about the water supply and geology surrounding the campus so they can return next spring and develop a safe and sustainable water supply for the school.

“We will look into providing ways to provide the school with more water,” says David Longrie of Grover, Mo., a senior in civil engineering. “We will assess their well, the pump and the existing storage unit.”

The team will leave Friday, Aug. 4, and return on Friday, Aug. 11. Once back on campus, EWB team members plan to design an appropriate water system for the school and prepare for a return trip to build the system.

Dr. Rick Stephenson, EWB’s faculty advisor and professor of civil engineering, and Dave Schepers, a professional partner from Ameren UE, will travel with the students and provide guidance. Tom Shipley, manager of video productions at UMR, will also accompany the team. The three UMR students traveling to Bolivia are:

  • Lindsey N. Campbell of Parma, Mo., a senior in ceramic engineering;
  • David Longrie of Grover, Mo., a senior in civil engineering; and
  • Jared Wehde of Foley, Mo., a junior in environmental engineering.

This is the fourth project for the UMR EWB chapter, which was formed on campus in 2004. Similar to the more established Doctors Without Borders, EWB works to improve the lives of people around the world by partnering with communities in building infrastructure such as water and sanitation systems and other engineering endeavors.

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

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On July 21, 2006. Posted in News