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International Projects

Belize 2020

During February break of 2020, WLU ECD returned to the Belmopan area. Our team spent the week constructing a biosand water filter for the Buena Vista Government School (a local elementary school in the Cayo district). We hope to improve access to clean drinking water for the school community for many years to come. Once the construction was completed, we did an educational workshop with the oldest students at the school and their teachers to insure that the filter will be properly operated and maintained.

The ECD 2020 crew worked hard but had a great deal of fun throughout the trip. We explored Mayan ruins, ziplined through a Belizean jungle, caught some beautiful sunsets, and ate crazy amounts of delicious food. More importantly, we all met the best little buddies at the school who wanted to play with us and even give a small helping hand with some of the project. 

This incredible trip would not have been possible without the help of our sponsors, including the W&L Physics and Engineering Department, the Office of the Provost, the Center for International Education, and Base Camp Belize. A great thank you to them all!

Check out the detailed breakdown of our project and some of the highlights of the trip in this video.

Mexico 2018

STEMito is an international project created by alums Angel Vela and Matt Lubas that teaches science, technology, mathematics, and engineering lessons to low-income students in Monterrey, Mexico. Angel and Matt started the program in the summer of 2017, where they spent two and a half months with a team leading experiments for students while rebuilding the school’s library.

 

During February Break in 2018, members of ECD and ESOL travelled to Monterrey for a week to continue teaching STEM lessons to elementary school students through the STEMito program. In the mornings the team worked on renovating the school’s central garden area to provide a welcoming centerpiece for both students and teachers. Other construction projects included repainting the outdoor stage and wooden frames, which are used for school ceremonies and recreation. In the afternoon, the teams taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students hands-on STEM lessons, ranging from tower-building competitions to circuit bugs to bottle rockets.

 

Each lesson was created and practiced by group members at Washington and Lee before adding it to a lesson handbook, which was gifted to the school along with supplies so that the STEMito activities could be incorporated into the classroom more often. Students were encouraged to work together and be creative, and many were inspired to continue exploring the STEM field. We hope that the trip opened new possibilities for many students and motivates them to love learning and all the adventures it can bring.

Belize 2019

In 2019, ECD spent February break in Belize building a biosand filter for a community church in the Unitedville village of the Cayo District. This water filter will clean water from the public water supply as well as extra rainwater captured with a brand new gutter system. This will improve the quality and quantity of water available for local residents. 

ECD members had a blast working with local community members and creating unique solutions for plumbing and building issues that came up along the way. ECD even had a chance to stop by the 2017 work site and update a few components! 

A huge thank you to all the organizations that made this trip possible and successful, including the W&L Physics and Engineering Department, Provost, the Center for International Education, and Base Camp Belize.

A PDF version of our proposal and manual can be found here

Belize 2017

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During February break in 2017, ECD partnered with Basecamp Belize in the Cayo District of Belize and built a bio-sand water filter. Aided by several locals, ECD effectively constructed the filter to provide clean drinking water on a community church property intended to be future site of a public school. W&L students on the trip learned about the challenges and joys of community engagement internationally through engineering service project implementation. Generous donations from the W&L Physics and Engineering Department, Provost, and Center for International Education helped make the trip possible. 

Belize 2016

Guatemala 2014

W&L EWB traveled to Guatemala during spring break of 2014. After a competitive selection process, our team's proposal for a water sanitation system was approved by the international nonprofit Pueblo a Pueblo. We were partnered with two elementary schools in the neighboring "pueblos" of Panabaj and La Cumbre, where we constructed two bio-sand water filters servicing around 200 students each.

Completing this project was challenging but greatly fulfilling. Our team members had minimal accommodations and immersed themselves in the typical lifestyle of this mountainous region. Finding construction materials was not an easy feat either in a resource-poor region. For instance, sand could not just be purchased in bags from a store but rather had to be harvested by a local. These challenges didn't deter our enthusiastic team from completing both filters in just eight days!

La Cumbre Workday

Making a mold at La Cumbre school with lots of helpers.

Panabaj Full Group

The Panabaj crew, just after completing construction on the last day. Smiles (and relief) all around.

Panabaj Workday

Using a local carpenter's favorite tool, a machete, to cut a cinder block to size.

La Cumbre Students

Students in La Cumbre.

Volcano, San Pedro

A beautiful volcano in San Pedro.

Bolivia 2011-2012

In collaboration with the EWB chapter at Virginia Military Institute and engineers at the Blue Ridge professional EWB chapter, W&L EWB undertook the Clean Water for Pampoyo project. The worksite was located in Pampoyo, Bolivia, which is around 13,000ft above sea level in the Andes Mountains.

 

The first phase of the Clean Water for Pampoyo project took place in July and August of 2011. We worked closely with the villagers of Pampoyo to construct a water catchment to reroute the water supply around mining areas containing toxic heavy metals, and laid 2,000 feet of piping for the water irrigation system. Six months later, during the second phase, our group finished the pipeline and connected it to two 5,000 gallon water storage tanks.

The final results of this collaboration were incredible. We installed a total of 6,000 feet of piping 1.5 feet below the ground of this rugged terrain and increased the community's arable land by 400%, providing a clean supply of drinking and cooking water. This project also had a positive economic impact, increasing employment within Pampoyo and initiating the development of Pampoyo Women's Knitting Cooperative.

 

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