(Jan. 28, 2013) – This month, UTSA engineering students Adam Bazar, Steven Byers, Jessica George and Diego Gonzalez and faculty mentor John Joseph spent 12 days in central Peru installing the components necessary to help bring water to the earthquake-stricken town Viña Vieja.
This is the third trip that UTSA's chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-UTSA) has made to Peru as part of a five-year agreement with the town of Viña Vieja in cooperation with local non-governmental organization Texas Partners of Americas. The group's goal is to facilitate community health and rebuilding efforts through expanded access to water resources and earthquake-resistant structural designs. This initial project involves designing and building a comprehensive water delivery system so that the 500 residents of Viña Vieja can own and operate a reliable water system capable of supporting their daily needs for the first time.
Viña Vieja lies roughly 10 miles from the coast of central Peru, but experiences an arid climate because of the dry air descending from the Andes. In 2007, the region was devastated by consecutive earthquakes, which left many of the residents of Viña Vieja without housing, while complicating the existing problem of obtaining potable water.
Each trip to Peru is a race against time, as the company that owns much of the farmland in this agricultural community has threatened to begin adding fertilizer to the water supply that feeds into the canal systems used by residents for bathing, cooking and drinking.
"In the past, other groups unaffiliated with EWB visited Viña Vieja to do what we're doing, but never finished what they set out to do," said Gonzalez. "So, it took some time to prove to the local people that we are committed to this project and to gain their trust. Now that they trust us, they are getting involved and helping it become sustainable, so when we leave, they'll be able to operate and maintain it on their own."
The group will make their next trip to Peru in August to finish building and testing the new water delivery system as well as to teach the local residents to maintain it themselves.
The EWB students are responsible for raising the funds to make each trip to Viña Vieja, and each trip costs roughly $15,000, which covers the cost of travel and materials.
"It was a challenge to prepare for this trip while also taking a full course load of intense engineering classes, studying and working," said UTSA civil engineering senior Jessica George. "But, meeting the people in Viña Vieja and seeing how what we're doing is actually making a difference in that community made it all worth it."
"I'm impressed that these students took out time from their holiday break to endure harsh living conditions so that such a basic need of the people of Vina Vieja might be met, and how diligently and steadily they worked as unexpected obstacles arose," said UTSA civil and environmental engineering lecturer John Joseph.
The UTSA chapter of Engineers Without Borders includes students from multiple disciplines, professional mentors John Joseph and AnnMarie Spexet, and faculty adviser Heather Shipley. The students are involved in design, fundraising and outreach for all projects. Donors to the group include Clearly Zimmermann Engineers, GKW-Inc., Gabriele and Mark Niederauer, UTSA Family Association and Parent Council, UTSA College of Engineering, UTSA College of Engineering Office of the Dean and the UTSA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
To learn more, visit the UTSA Engineers Without Borders website.
The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus
This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus
Graduate student uses storytelling to highlight important issues facing children
As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.
At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.
Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.
With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.
Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.
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