Daytona Beach, FL – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) students are gearing up to install a water filtration system, which they designed and built themselves, in Haiti as part of the university’s ongoing humanitarian effort “Project Haiti.”
In May, 10 students will travel to Gonaives to install a solar-powered water filtration system in a school and orphanage. Gonaives is located north of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. It is estimated that 235 children in Gonaives will have clean water after the system is installed
“Many times our classroom design projects, like building a filtration system, are theoretical. This project is hands on. It challenges the students to become practical and resourceful while operating in a dynamic, unstructured and unpredictable environment,” said Dr. Marc Compere, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at ERAU. Dr. Compere and Dr. Geoffrey Kain, professor of Humanities and Communication and director of the ERAU Honors Program, will go with the students to Haiti.
Previous student trips to Haiti were unsuccessful in removing all salt, sediment, and viruses found in well and river water. This year, the team of students has been working on creating a water filtration system that uses reverse osmosis to purify water.
The system relies on a high-pressure pump to move water through ultrafine, semi-permeable membranes. According to the team, the filters will not need to be replaced very often so the community can maintain the system at a low-cost. Solar panels will also be set up to power the system. The students were hands-on during every step of the project, including welding the purifier frame and designing and manufacturing the control panel.
Also, a small business seeking to sell five-gallon bottles of clean water to the area will be established. Profit from the business will go to the orphanage and school. When the children turn 18, the business will provide them with employment.
ERAU’s Project Haiti first began in January 2010 after a major earthquake struck the island. This will be the ninth year that ERAU Daytona Beach Campus students head to Haiti to install water filtration systems. So far, eight solar-powered water filtration systems have been installed, and four businesses selling clean water have been launched. ERAU’s efforts have benefited thousands of Haitians.
“When the children heard they were going to have clean water, it was like telling them they were going to Disney World,” said the president of Embry-Riddle’s Project Haiti and mechanical engineering senior, Rachel Hunt. “It changed my perspective on the importance of small things we normally take for granted. I really enjoyed the ability to use what I’ve been learning to help other people and make an actual change in the world.”
Hunt, who first went to Haiti during last year’s Project Haiti trip, said the trip changed her life forever. Hunt said that her dream career would be to engineer humanitarian aid to developing countries.
“I fell in love with the people,” said team member and aeronautical science major, Audrey Hallam. “It was amazing to create something that would change their lives and keep them healthier.”
To learn more about Project Haiti and to donate, head to https://crowdfunding.erau.edu/project/9845.
Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2018.