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Baylor Engineering Team Works on Projects in Honduras

Jan. 11, 2007

A group of Baylor engineering students and faculty traveled to Honduras over the Christmas break, December 29, 2006-January 5, 2007 to undertake two projects.

The first project was to determine the suitability of a small river near the remote village of Pueblo Nuevo. The group measured river flow (about 250 liters/second) and other physical parameters in order to determine the feasibility of installing a microhydro generator there one day to recharge batteries for home lighting for the families in 54 homes there. In their visit, they met many villagers and discussed their needs through an interpreter (although some in the group were able to use their own Español). Professor Brian Thomas, said their work in Pueblo Nuevo "went well but there is much more work to be done over the next months and, possibly, years."

The second project, which was completed during the trip, was to install a water purification system in a housing project called Bonatillo whose water supply was untreated river water. The site was built as relief-housing after hurricane Mitch destroyed much of Honduras in 1998. On the day the purification system was installed, the group made their first batch of about 500 liters. Everyone took a drink from the water it produced. The first batch of purified water brought 15 to 20 families out from their homes to get a 5 gallon "free sample". Now that the water purification system is running, a network of locals is established through the social ministry of the church will collect a small fee to sustain the system.

Of the trip, Ryan McGee, engineering graduate student, said, "In Pueblo Nuevo (New Town), we worked with the regional director and the local pastor to start the process of installing a micro-hydro power plant that will reduce the people's dependence on dangerous and expensive kerosene lamps. This resource will be seen as an outreach of the local church in their area.

"We were also able to install a water purification system in a small neighborhood that had been built as relief housing for victims of the 1998 hurricane, Mitch. The houses in the community already have a reliable water supply, but the water is not safe to drink due to contamination of the supply system on the way to the community. We were able to assemble and test the system and then train several people from the local water committee in its operation and use. The people where spending about 25 Limpira ( ~$1.25 ) for five gallons of water and with the new system they will hopefully be spending as little as 1-5 Limpira for the same amount of water. This should encourage even the poorest of families to use it instead of risking their health and the health of their children.

"I have traveled to central America before and I even lived in South America for about a year, but this was the first time that I have been back "down south" for the purpose of doing missions engineering work. And I loved it. I love that fact that God can use my talents and skills for his work and that I can be privileged to be the tool that he uses to encourage and promote his Church."

View a photo of Jonathan Crabtree, Leah Richter, and Ryan McGhee performing river measurements.