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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Bringing Water to Those in Need

Six engineering students hope to travel to Kenya this summer to build a much needed water pipeline. Due to recent inter-tribal troubles associated with the recent presidential elections in Kenya however, security issues for the upcoming trip are being evaluated.

The students, members of the WSU student chapter of Engineers Without Borders, hope to build a nine-mile long pipeline to bring fresh water to 35,000 residents in the Kayafungo area, 30 miles southwest of Mombasa – one of the most arid and impoverished regions in Kenya. Women in the Kayafungo area currently have to travel about six miles a day for fresh water. Waterborne diseases are a continual threat.

Working with faculty advisor Dan Dolan, the student-designed product will consist of a gravity fed pipeline. It will begin at a tank constructed by the Kenyan government in Mwijo and will stretch to Gotani.

The students’ design will offer water stations in areas of high population, schools and near the local health clinic. Each spigot will provide 20 liters of water per minute. A water tank will be placed at area schools to provide storage, cooking, and cleaning water.

Civil engineering students, Samantha York, Carrie Schramm and Zakaria Mohamed presented project plans this winter. They hope to have design details and funding from Washington-based companies by midway through the spring semester.

Mechanical engineering students, Alex McDonald, Jimmy Huffaker and Aaron Taylor also worked on the project for their senior design project, integrating the two engineering disciplines effectively. They completed the design to meet the Kenyan government regulations and utilize local labor.

The students are working with Student Movement for Real Change , a non-profit group which will donate $1 million for pipeline materials. The Kenyan Ministry of Water will fund and install the preliminary tank and pump system before the students’ arrival.

WSU faculty and students previously chose Kenya for the project because of its stability and low level of racially charged aggression. At present, the safety of their trip is being evaluated and possibly postponed until inter-tribal conflicts are settled. “I will not take students into a country where I thought they would be at risk,” said Dolan.

Dolan will not accompany the students on this trip due to temporary medical restrictions. Dr. David Pollock and Dr. David McLean will travel with the students.

“I’m sad not to be going on this trip,” said Dolan. “I made promises to people that I would return -but I will be back in 2009.”

Dolan plans on continually working on projects in Kenya with the Engineers Without Borders program as he and his group have created strong ties with the area which allows for a supportive working environment.