UPEI Engineering Brigades Club design water system for rural community in Honduras

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UPEI Engineering Brigade
Members of the UPEI Engineering Brigade in Honduras

In February 2024, the UPEI Engineering Brigades Club traveled to Honduras where they designed a water system for the rural community of La Brea.

The 22-member student team worked alongside Honduran engineers and the Global Brigades staff on the project. This trip marked the second-ever successful UPEI Global Engineering Brigade service trip. They were accompanied by Dr. Libby Osgood, associate professor, Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering, and Sherilyn Acorn, manager, UPEI Office of Study Abroad and International Partnerships.

The UPEI Engineering Brigade group began their time in La Brea by meeting with community leaders to determine the main issues surrounding the community’s existing water system, said Maddy Cronin, president of the UPEI Engineering Brigades Club. While La Brea did have a water system, it did not consistently provide enough water to the community year-round, which is a problem as the population continues to grow. 

The students split into three groups to gather data, map, and survey La Brea. Each group gathered information about household water use and family size, and then used GPS to record locations of the community’s roads and all of its homes, taking measurements of where the water system piping would go. The data was compiled into a computer program where the water system was designed and pipe size and material were determined. The students created a budget and presented the design to the community on their final day in La Brea. After the students completed their presentation, children from the community performed a series of dances as a thank you.

The next step is for La Brea’s water council to agree to implement the design and develop a funding plan. From there, a brigade can be organized to assist in the fundraising and building of the water system. Many of the volunteers from UPEI are eager to return and assist the community in building the water system, said Cronin.

Bridget Patterson, a final-year engineering student who participated in this years’ brigade, commented on the experience and the impact it can have on the community: “Witnessing first-hand the passion that echoes within the small community of La Brea was a truly transformative experience. I am optimistic that with teamwork and dedication, a clean water system will be implemented and hopefully make positive changes for the members of the community.” 

The Global Engineering Brigades is an international organization that partners with university students to provide valuable assistance in under-resourced communities struggling with dysfunctional or non-existent water systems. The UPEI chapter of Global Engineering looks forward to future years of service abroad, working with community leaders, engineers, and technicians to develop water systems. 

The Engineering Brigades Club at UPEI welcomes interested students to join. For more information, contact upeiengineeringbrigades@upeisu.ca.

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