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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
on the snapshot for a larger image.
Michigan Technological University Senior Design Team
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!
presentation to CEE Professional Advisory Committee on campus
Design Team Members