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Students’ Engineering and Management Project Will Bring Fresh Water to a Guatemalan Town Read the Students’ Blog!

Posted March 16, 2009


The deans of the College’s three undergraduate schools, along with President Anthony S. Caprio, recently wished 12 students a “buen viaje” to Guatemala, where the group will travel on May 13 and spend two weeks enhancing a town’s sustainability by improving its water distribution system. The students are pictured after their send-off with (far right) School of Engineering Dean S. Hossein Cheraghi, School of Business Dean Julie Siciliano, and Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Saeed Ghahramani. The trip was partially funded by a $2,500 grant from the Alumni Association.

The students are enrolled in the course “Global Sustainability Management,” which is linked to a senior engineering project by Brittany Pickering, an industrial engineering major. This undertaking entails completing a feasibility study to pipe water several miles to an elevation of 3,000 feet using renewable energy sources (wind, solar, and geo-thermal). They will be led by Bruce Clemens, an assistant professor of management, and Steven Northrup, an associate professor of electrical engineering.

Water supply is crucial for the survival of San Lucas Toliman, a town of 17,000 in rural Guatemala. Thanks to the group’s efforts, fewer residents will need to embark on the hour-long march to reach the only other water source in the vicinity. Throughout the trip, the students will share their experiences on a class weblog that can be viewed here.

Clemens has over three decades of experience in this area: in 1972 he founded Agua del Pueblo, a nonprofit technical assistance organization that has provided more than 900 water systems to rural Guatemala. This is his third trip to San Lucas Toliman with Western New England College students. He previously brought classes to Guatemala from James Madison University, where he used teach.

The students will be involved in a variety of tasks through May 24, including digging ditches, installing pipeline, and working on such other infrastructure projects. The group, which previously met as a class six times in the spring semester course, will write term papers on the experience.

“My goal is to teach the students about management, culture, and engineering in a developing country, and to build a whole new generation of volunteers,” says Clemens. “That isn’t too difficult at Western New England College, because I find the students here very active in volunteerism.”

Many of the students will earn credits for Learning Beyond the Classroom (LBC), a program that helps undergraduates link theoretical learning with real-world experiences.

To read last year's Guatemala blog by Western New England College students, click here.

On May 7, after the students met the College’s deans, they discussed their trip with College President Anthony S. Caprio, who is pictured with the group below.




Western New England University is a private, independent, coeducational institution founded in 1919. Located on an attractive 215-acre suburban campus in Springfield, Massachusetts, Western New England University serves 3,955 students, including 2,575 full-time undergraduate students. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs are offered through Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Pharmacy, and School of Law.


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