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Course Provides Water Treatment Systems for the Dominican Republic

Purdue students from seven different academic units, including Civil Engineering, traveled May 9-15, 2015, to the Dominican Republic for a service-learning project related to a course titled Water Supply in Developing Countries.

Purdue students from seven different academic units, including Civil Engineering, traveled May 9-15, 2015, to the Dominican Republic for a service-learning project related to a course titled Water Supply in Developing Countries.

Since 2012, this course has taken an interdisciplinary, holistic approach to water quality and water supply problems in developing countries. Specifically, participants design and implement community-scale water treatment systems for use in small towns, such as Las Canas, a remote village on the northern side of the island.

Work has been shaped with the assistance of Aqua Clara International, a nonprofit organization, providing affordable safe water solutions for communities in developing countries. Financial support comes from Purdue’s Study Abroad program and from the academic areas involved, which include Agricultural Economics, Biology, Civil Engineering, Environmental and Ecological Engineering, Food Science, Industrial Engineering and Nursing.

About this trip, Ernest (Chip) Blatchley, professor of civil engineering and environmental and ecological engineering, says, “We identified several other communities in the Dominican Republic to begin working with, and worked closely with the community of Las Canas to help residents better utilize the potable water system we helped install during a previous visit. A key feature of our project is that the systems installed are owned and operated by the communities they are in.”

Plans move forward for future trips, and we are especially excited about a potential partnership with the Lafayette Rotary Club and Rotary International. Student participation in study abroad programs is increasing across campus thanks to more funding available through the Purdue Moves initiative. For more information on study abroad programs available to students in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, visit CE Global Programs.


Master’s student Angela Ortiz (left, since graduated), shows two residents of Las Canas, Dominican Republic, how to measure chlorine concentration in their water.