Knovel supports Engineers Without Borders USA projects

Friday, February 21, 2014

Two Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) chapters received grants totaling $10,000 from Knovel in support of important community health initiatives in the Philippines and Cameroon. The University of Notre Dame EWB-USA Student Chapter was awarded one grant for a project designed to provide a clean and reliable source of drinking water to a school in Sangmelima, Cameroon. The Philadelphia Professional Chapter of EWB-USA was awarded the other grant in support of an initiative that will bring potable water to the village of Apatut in the Philippines.

Both chapters submitted an application and received funding as part of EWB-USA's Fall 2013 Project Grants Program. EWB-USA is a nonprofit humanitarian organization established to support community-driven development programs worldwide through partnerships that design and implement sustainable engineering projects. Knovel became an EWB-USA corporate partner in 2012, and last year, Knovel provided a grant to the University of South Carolina chapter. Knovel’s cloud-based application integrates technical information from more than 100 engineering publishers and societies with analytical and search tools.

These projects target communities where residents currently draw water from unreliable and unsanitary sources. Students from the Alfred and Sarah Bilingual School in Cameroon must walk several kilometers a day to retrieve water, which must be boiled in order to become potable. In Apatut, community residents suffer from numerous illnesses associated with inadequate sanitation practices and poor drinking water quality, such as diarrhea, dysentery and stomachache.

“Knovel’s support will allow us to travel to Apatut in the fall and install the water system we’ve designed that will dramatically improve the water quality and reliable supply, which will directly impact the community,” said Walt Walker, president of the EWB-USA Philadelphia Professional Chapter. “Specific objectives will include staged oversight, construction and installation of a storage tank, valve box, distribution piping, tap stands, pumps and a water treatment system. This work will make a big difference in the lives of this vibrant community.”

The EWB-USA Philadelphia Professional Chapter has been engaged in its “Water for Life” project since 2010, helping to identify and evaluate the options that the community of 750 people have for water sources. The team has partnered with local Filipino Rotary Clubs to develop a sustainable solution to the community’s water problem.

“We recently completed our first assessment trip to Cameroon to meet with key members of the local community and to evaluate the feasibility of several different water sources,” said Matthew Matasci, project member of the EWB-USA Notre Dame Student Chapter. “Receiving a grant from Knovel at this stage is important as we prove the case for the long term project and continue to fund raise. We will work closely with the community, and with several third-party organizations, to ensure the success of the project.”

The assessment studied the feasibility of the development of different water sources. Site mapping was performed to identify potential sources. Water testing was performed in order to assess problems with current water sources and identify potential problems with the source that will be developed. This testing will give insight into what kind of filtration and/or water collection system might be necessary to prevent health risks. Community involvement has been critical for establishing local contacts that can foster a sustainable, working relationship with the community. The team has worked closely with two community-based organizations to ensure the success of the program.

“The impact that Engineers Without Borders USA projects have on communities is remarkable, and these two initiatives are great examples of how engineers can improve the quality of life for the locals in Apatut and Sanmelima,” said Sasha Gurke, Elsevier’s Engineering Fellow & Co-Founder, Knovel. “Knovel regularly works with an extensive worldwide network of engineers who are innovating and making long term contributions to society. It’s gratifying to support their volunteer efforts and to help raise awareness of water and sanitation issues that can be resolved working collaboratively.”

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