Engineers Without Borders

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Wed, August 22 2012 at 4:48 PM, Updated: Wed, August 22 2012 at 5:01 PM

A remote village in Tanzania is enjoying cleaner water tonight, thanks to an effort by some students and staff from Oregon Institute of Technology.

O.I.T. Civil Engineering student Jordan Hunter recently returned from a month-long project in Hanga, Tanzania.  Hunter was part of a nine member team helping to build a water filtration system...

"They don't have the resources available like we have as far as electricity for U-V filtration, or chlorination."

Civil Engineering professor David Thaemert adds that the village relies on water diverted from a mountain stream...

"So it would be like taking water out of any creeks around the Basin, or around the Rogue Valley."

Hunter notes that a foundation was built to house a system that will use sand to filter the water...

"The biggest thing is that the filter is sustainable to the people there.  All it requires is changing sand, and then washing the sand to ensure it's clean."

This is the fourth year that O.I.T. students have been involved with the project.

"Water's that basic building block of life."  Says Professor Thaemert.  "If you don't have clean water, you don't have anything else."

Funding for the trip and materials comes from Rotary International, and public and private donations.   The village gets clean water, and Professor Thaemert says the students gain valuable experience...

"I think I get pretty charged up because we get to see the students developing their professional skills, their professional judgement, and professional practice."

The Civil Engineering students from O.I.T. hope to complete the project next year.

Students from the Clackamas campus of O.I.T. have been involved in a separate project in Tanzania.  That group has been helping to install solar panels in a remote village in central Tanzania.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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