Grantee Research Project Results
Young People Make Technological Innovations and Help Latin American Countries
Washington, D.C.(Conciencia newswire service ), May 5, 2008 - More than 50 groups from different universities across the country participated in the exhibition of sustainable innovative projects in the nation’s capital.
Most of them sought to use natural resources in order to protect the environment.
Projects included the generation of wind energy through kites, solar panels made of plant chlorophyll, the production of plastic from wastewater and the production of clean water in underdeveloped countries, among others.
One of the exhibitors was the team of Daniel Zitomer, a Professor of Engineering at Marquette University, who started working with his engineering students seven years ago in the search for solutions to improve the quality of life of Guatemala’s indigenous residents.
One of the projects was the construction of a 67-foot high bridge across the Moragua River, connecting the rural populations of Pancha and Garrucha.
“We design systems and sometimes bridges to bring regions together,” said Zitomer. “Our designs haven’t been the best due to a lack of resources. We are still a long way away from building everything we would like to.”
For Chris Zarba, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency and the sponsor of the exhibition, it gives the students an opportunity to think “outside the box.” It allows them to distance themselves from generally accepted ideas, and to show their abilities and share their projects to earn money.
“The good thing about young people is that they realize that many things can be accomplished,” said Zarba. According to the director, all projects come from creative students with innovative ideas. “The quality of the proposals and the effects that they have each year are better and more popular. This is our fourth year and things seem to be going well.”
Every year, at least 30% of the projects are dedicated to developing countries. This year, projects related to Mexico and Guatemala, among others, were submitted.
For instance, Marquette University's project was meant to involve the engineering students in building and continuing to create drinking water systems in rural areas of Guatemala.
In recent years, progress has been evident in aqueduct construction. Nevertheless, the process has been slow.
“We should have educational programs to teach people in these communities to wash their hands,” said Zitomer. “When the infant mortality rate is high, we try to somehow improve their water access system. We have learned a lot about them.”
According to Zitomar, this has been a valuable lesson for students who were able to identify limitations with which residents of some Latin American countries live.
“It has been an experience that really changed my life,” said Mark Von Dollen, an engineering student. “I don’t think I’ll ever carry out an engineering project in my life without thinking of the countries that do not have access to technology or funds.”
Von Dollen helped create a water distribution line and searched for methods for partial purification of the water used in some regions.