Senior, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Athens, OH 14 March 2016 –
My favorite organization on campus is Global Engineering Projects (formerly known as Bobcats Building a Better World). I’ve been involved since my freshman year and have traveled to Ghana on two separate occasions with members of the organization. It has been the most influential student organization on my experience at OU.
The mission of Global Engineering Projects is “to help disadvantaged communities improve their quality of life through implementation of environmentally and economically sustainable engineering projects, while developing internationally responsible engineering students.”
We are a group of about 20 undergraduate engineering students of all disciplines. We meet once a week for 30 minutes to an hour or so to work on and present designs for our current projects. Especially as a young student, it was really interesting to learn from and work with students of all disciplines and years.
During my first year I learned a bit of AutoCAD and was able to do some on-site surveying because of the upperclassmen civil engineers that were involved in the organization.
Global Engineering Projects has a long-standing relationship with a village in Ghana, Maase-Offinso. Because of this relationship we are able to implement the designs we work on all year and feel the benefits of working on a real project and we are also able to witness the sustainability and impact of past designs.
My freshman year (2012-2013) we worked on building a duplex for two teachers and their families. The duplex was intended to attract and keep teachers in the area. The stipend offered to teachers in Ghana is similar regardless of their location, so the village has a difficult time retaining teachers. The teacher accommodations have many common amenities that were not previously available to the teachers of the village.
The first year we designed and implemented a septic tank and an anaerobic digestion pit; we also surveyed the land and repaired some of the older projects.
My sophomore year, I was unable to go on the trip to Ghana, but the group sent five students. We added a rain water collection system to the duplex, worked on some of the duplex layout, laid the piping, and taught the school children about the water cycle.
My junior year, we worked on adding solar panels and a water pump to the house, we wired the house, we sifted sand to the proper grading to refill the anaerobic pit, we fit the water tanks into the house, we taught the school children about solar energy, and we scoped out future projects.
At the conclusion of last year’s trip, the duplex was nearly complete; we were even able to host a party in the house at the conclusion of our trip. During the party, the three travel team students and Dr. Giesey were able to express our gratitude to the locals who hosted and helped us throughout the trip. We danced around, ate great food, and showed off the solar powered lights.
Currently, our group is working on completing the duplex, creating a system for monitoring the water and electricity usage in the house, building a playground for the village, and a few other future projects.
Global Engineering Projects has allowed me to form great friendships, develop engineering skills (both designing and adapting projects), and fall in love with a place and people across the Atlantic.