AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Auburn University students and their professor are taking their engineering skills to South America to change the lives of others.
The Auburn team spent a week this past August in the mountains of Bolivia, developing and implementing irrigation systems to improve life for residents of the remote village, Quesimpuco.
"This lower part of the village has water so scarcity, so in the dry season they don't have enough water to water their crops and so we are trying to get a local water source that is near the lower region of the community, kind of channel the water to the lower regions that aren't getting adequate coverage for their crops," explains Auburn University engineering student, Stephen Smart.
To help improve crop productions, the team designed two projects: a gravity fed irrigation system and a hydroponics demonstration unit. Both aimed at managing the limited amount of water available while providing enough to meet demand.
"We've been working on this design this past year and we had a senior design team from Biosystems engineering work on a design for the irrigation system. Then this summer we surveyed the area, found the different crop and different land areas we wanted to irrigate and different land sources," states Smart.
Their work has not stopped yet. The Auburn teams is currently working on taking the data gathered from this trip and combine it with last year's design. They will then turn it into one real design to implement on the next trip.
"This is a five year commitment from this point forward. So really we don't have just one more trip planned. We really are looking at on what terms or assessments and also implementation of projects next year, the next year and the next year. So it really is a multiple year commitment from our side and from their side," explains Steve Duke, AU chemical engineering professor and advisor for the trip.
"It gives us a great chance to take out engineering skills out of the classroom and help others a give back to the world, which is great to be a part of," states Smart.