Two Engineers Without Borders Student Members Teach the Club
The Fernandina Beach Rotary Club recently welcomed as speakers Geronimo Etchechury and Luis Mendieta with the University of Florida Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB.) The two civil engineering students explained that EWB, a non-profit organization founded in 2002 by Dr. Bernard Amedei, allows students hands-on training through sustainable engineering projects that benefit communities in third world countries. Currently, Etchechury and Mendieta are involved in an irrigation project for the village of Aripalca – a farming community of 400 in the highlands of Bolivia. The five-year project centers around a mile-long concrete water channel that irrigates the villager’s crops. Etchechury said that early in the project, about 500 meters of the channel were destroyed by massive flooding resulting in a 90 percent loss of the community’s irrigation water. He said this catastrophe led to a redesign of the project, which will now link the remaining channel with nearly 600 meters of six-inch PVC pipe to carry water to the village’s fields. Once completed, the new irrigation system will increase the water supply and improve crop yields. While the people of Aripalca will provide much of the labor required to build the system and a small portion of the financing, EWB projects like this are funded through grants and donations, including a significant contribution from the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club in partnership with Rotary International.