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Nebraska Engineers Without Borders plans project in Madagascar



In the recent animated "Madagascar" movies, animal friends with different talents team up for adventure. In this spirit, and using the skills and energy of University of Nebraska students, Engineers Without Borders will help real residents of Madagascar this spring.

EWB-USA is a non-profit humanitarian organization that partners with developing communities worldwide to improve their quality of life through sustainable engineering projects, which help engage and train internationally responsible engineers and students.

EWB's new Nebraska chapter will conduct a service project with three weeks in the East African nation to complete an assessment of the Kianjavato community, said Monica Mejia, an EWB-NU student leader and a senior majoring in chemical engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

NU students and faculty--including engineers and others from UNL, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska Medical Center--will meet with the residents of Kianjavato and gather information about their challenges including the lack of electricity and potable water, Mejia said.

Water quality, community health and structure stability are areas where this Engineers Without Borders project can make a difference, said Libby Jones, a professor of civil engineering at UNL, who is working with the project.

EWB-NU seeks mentors, donors, resources and contacts to help implement this work. One partner on-board is Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, Jones said, which has a research station in Madagascar for conservation efforts to counter the area's diminishing biodiversity. Donations for EWB's Nebraska chapter are accepted at its page on the Engineers Without Borders Web site:

For the Kianjavato community, this project could ultimately provide a much-needed water purification system that does not require power, said Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, an assistant professor of civil engineering with UNL who is active in this project. And for the EWB-NU chapter, this experience could be an unforgettable way to put learning to work and connect with the world.


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