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Smith+Gardner Intern Returns from Engineers without Borders trip to Sierra Leone

INVOLVEMENT – Smith+Gardner intern, John McNulty, recently returned from a three-week trip to Sierra Leone with the NC State Engineers Without Borders (EWB) program.  Mr. McNulty was a member of a team that assisted with the construction of a water treatment and distribution system for a local school that has struggled to provide affordable clean water for its 700 students and staff.  With volunteer assistance from Smith+Gardner, the team gathered information on the aquifer and soil profiles at the site while building relationships with local government officials, members of the community and non-profit organizations working in the region.

“Walking from place to place in the never-ending heat and eating local foods gave us an opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of those who live there.  The people of Sierra Leone are a very friendly and generous group of people who always see the best in the world,” said John McNulty, a senior studying civil engineering and a member of the NC State chapter of EWB.  “It was an extremely satisfying moment when we could turn on the hand-washing station at the bottom of the hill (at the end of the piping system) and wash our hands with some of the members of the school – signifying the completion of construction and a job well done.”

EWB’s main goal for projects like this is to work with the community so that there is someone local to fix any small problems that may occur with the system.  This was accomplished by hiring local contractors to construct the system and training school staff members on how to maintain the treatment system.  Additionally, the EWB program provides engineering students with the opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom and gain an understanding of how the Engineering profession can shape and improve our world.

Ultimately EWB will step away from the project once it’s established to be a long-term solution to their problem of water scarcity.

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