Four Kansas State University engineering students and an engineering professor recently helped with three projects in India to improve living conditions in the villages of Purkal and Jaspur.
The students are members of the K-State chapter of Engineers Without Borders. The projects gave students a chance to put their skills and classroom knowledge to work in an international setting. K-State took part in the projects with faculty members and students from Iowa State University and the Dehradun Institute of Technology, the host institution, in India.
The students and faculty were divided into three project teams: solar-lighting team, the solar fig dehydration team and the rainwater harvesting team. Each team was asked to come up with a possible solution for each of the three problems the villages faced. For each project, team members assessed the problem and formulated a design brief. The groups then gathered data needed for project designs before creating a matrix of possible solutions and presenting those solutions, according to Anil Pahwa, a K-State professor of electrical and computer engineering who led the K-State group.
The first two projects addressed the needs of the Purkal Youth Development Society. The first project the teams tackled was Purkal's need for sustainable and affordable street lighting systems. The lighting systems were needed to ensure safety as villagers traveled to and from their homes at night. Purkal is in a mountainous area with rugged terrain, so lighting is essential for safety.
The second problem the teams addressed was the need to dehydrate fig fruit. Dehydrating, or drying, the figs increases their longevity. The youth development society also might be able to create a micro-enterprise by selling the dehydrated fruit since it would last long enough to transport to markets.
The third issue addressed was the need for water in nearby Jaspur, where villagers are forced to rely on the four-month wet season for water; they are left without any sustainable means for harvesting water during the rest of the year.
After presenting their projects, the teams were asked to begin the next steps in implementing each project. For the street-lighting and fig-drying projects, a pilot project will be implemented separately at K-State, Iowa State and Dehradun Institute of Technology.