Reproduced from CH2M-Hill Corporate Newsletter:

Real world classroom creates future engineers

Milwaukee Transportation Engineer, Michael Paddock, PE, PS, didn't know what he was in for when he volunteered to be a technical advisor to Michigan Technological University's Civil Engineering Senior Design Class. Mike Paddock is a Michigan Tech alumni, '87, Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE). Linda Phillips is a Michigan Tech CEE faculty member.

In January 2001, program Director Linda Phillips started to provide civil engineering students an option of delivering their senior design project in Latin America. The three-credit course requires students to deliver plans, specifications, estimates and schedules for a civil engineering project. If the students elect to participate in the international program, they are in for a whole lot more!

Typically, two weeks are spent on site collecting design data, getting exposed to the local culture and working on a construction site to learn local construction practices and techniques. When the students return from their trip, they work over the next few months completing their design, culminating in a presentation.

In August, a group of 13 students went to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. This was the forth time Michigan Technological University seniors visited the school site that started with six children at a table in a field. The school now serves nearly 200 students. The students for this trip selected four design projects.

School Wastewater Treatment
The school in the Barrio Los Pinos, has plans to expand to 1,000 students and is well on its way. The design team designed a treatment system that could be expanded as the school grows, conserving capital resources. Data gathering included digging nine-foot deep soil test pits by hand and interviewing students to determine waste flow volumes. It was discovered
that each Santa Cruz student uses only two gallons of water per day, compared to nearly 20 gallons per day in the United States.
"This was really a design-build project", Paddock said. "We were hand digging the tank pits and trenches while we were completing the structural design".

The structures were constructed from locally made brick masonry and reinforced concrete, all by hand.

Flood Control Project
The new school site and surrounding area flood every rainy season. Instead of just solving the school site drainage problem by simply placing fill material above the high water level, the student design team took on the challenge of solving the community's surface water problem. A complete topographical survey was conducted of the drainage basin. Several alternatives were evaluated and a three-quarter kilometer canal system was chosen for final design. Since the flooding area included nearly 200 casa's (homes) and nearly 1,000 people, a public meeting was held to inform the community about the project.

"They were a bit skeptical of our design at first", Paddock said.

The local community had been working on potential solutions for many years with no progress. The student design team was able to present their project to the local officials and gain approval. They were even able to convince the local officials to provide a grader from the area to the project for two days.

"It is a miracle that the whole thing came together in only two weeks, especially in Bolivia", said school Director Susie Henry.

Church Feasibility Study
The third design project the students selected was a master plan for a new church. The students performed a complete site survey of the property and gathered data from the church officials on potential congregation numbers. The design team also met several times with the local architect, discussing options and concepts. Because of the limited resources, phasing is a critical success factor for any Bolivian project.
"The student design team did an excellent job of balancing cost, function and schedule on the project," Paddock said.

Orphanage Water Quality
A forth design team worked with a local orphanage on the water quality to the facility. The orphanage believed that poor water quality was contributing to several health issues at the facility. Water quality tests were made and indicated that no water treatment was needed to meet typical U.S. standards. The team worked with several local doctors to provide procedures to minimize the chances of contamination, which appeared to be causing the problem. This was great news to the orphanage as they continually work with a very limited capital budget. The student design team is also testing an idea of using the high altitude sunlight to provide some ultraviolet treatment of drinking water for other remote locations in Bolivia.
Phillips hopes to continue to grow the program, delivering real projects that can make a real difference to the people of Bolivia and other locations.
"My goal would be to have at least two experienced alumni serve as technical advisors on each trip at a minimum," she said. "It's a great way to give back something to the profession and the world community and it is a whole lot of fun working with the students and local people," Paddock added.

If you are interested in more information on this program, please contact Mike Paddock at 414-212-4400 x201.



Click on the snapshot for a larger image.

Michigan Technological University Senior Design Team in Bolivia.

School site at Los Pinos.

Barrio Flooding during a typical rainy season.

Student Flood Control Design Team at work.

CH2M HILL engineer, Mike Paddock with new Bolivian Amigos!

Project work in Bolivia

Students giving presentation to CEE Professional Advisory Committee on campus

Design Team Members

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