EWB-RHIT Implements the Substructure for the Second Latrine

In August of 2016, we traveled to the village of Gomoa Gyaman , Ghana for the fourth time since 2013. Our travel team consisted of six students, Camille Blaisdell, Rachel Broughton, Louis Campbell, Emily Haussmann, Andy Rhine, and Dhruv Vora, our technical mentor Jed Holt, and our faculty mentor Dr. Daniel Tetteh-Richter. On previous trips, we constructed one latrine and communicated with village elders to formulate a design to meet Gomoa Gyaman’s needs as serve as a source of pride. During this trip, we completed the substructure of the second latrine in the village. We also completed the superstructure of the first latrine since time restraints kept last spring’s travel team from finishing. The community, with the supervision of the team, painted the latrine and finished installing the plumbing, stall doors, and some aesthetic features.

Upon arrival, the team was set back two days due to unexpected issues with pit excavation. The community did not dig a stepped excavation but rather left the team with a vertical-walled pit and piles of earth to the side that posed a safety risk. However, within two days’ time, the team and local community modified the excavation to improve the safety of the worksite, allowing construction to begin as planned. The team constructed all parts of the substructure using concrete and rebar in some form, following the construction process of the last build closely with a few alterations. Rather than using a neat excavation method, the footings were formed above the pit bottom since the ground in Gyaman is difficult to dig out. The team poured the interior and exterior walls separately in order to reuse the wall forms and decrease the volume of each pour.

Substructure In the Works

Meanwhile, the first latrine remained nominally complete but not quite ready for use. Our previous team only stayed for a week and thus didn’t have the time to finish all the details of the latrine, such as hanging all the doors. The community also decided to add such amenities to the latrine as a privacy wall, a tiled floor, and painted walls. As a result, the travel team and community leaders decided to complete the first latrine while the team was in town. Although the team helped coordinate the work at this site, most of the effort was community driven and financed. Ultimately, everyone helped put the final touches on the first latrine and the community held an opening ceremony the last day of the travel team’s stay.

Along with gaining engineering experience, the travel team grew through personal understanding of communication and life skills. One of the major obstacles the team had to overcome was the language barrier. Rural Ghanaians often speak local languages rather than English, so communication with them depends greatly upon body language, hand signals, and a few choice English words. Although this type of communication can be frustrating, we learned to keep a positive attitude regardless.

Currently, we plan to construct the second latrine’s second superstructure in the next year, and further assess Gomoa Gyaman’s needs that can be met by our engineering skills.

Return to Ghana

In just a few weeks, from February 25th to March 6th, we will be returning to Gomoa Gyaman, Ghana to finish constructing the latrine! Over the fall and winter, the latrine substructure remained covered and unused, waiting for the next phase of construction. We will make use of the lessons learned on last summer’s trip including quality and availability of materials and labor delegation.

Currently, we are making sure all of our vaccinations are complete, developing a construction plan, and calculating the amount of material and labor required. This lengthy process includes all members of the club, not only those who will be travelling.

This latrine will have 10 stalls and 2 handwashing stations. It will be constructed using CMU and mortar walls with a truss-style roof. Stalls will be divided with CMUs and the roof will be covered with sheet metal. This latrine, when finished, will be a great improvement over existing latrines, some of which are structurally inadequate and others of which are full. Additionally, this latrine is designed to be emptied periodically by a professional waste removal service from a nearby city.

We have spent a significant time preparing for this trip and are really looking forward to the results. Check back for the post-trip recap!

Ghana Go-Ahead

The RHIT student chapter of EWB has been given final approval to travel to Ghana on their first implementation trip to the community of Gomoa Gyaman! It’s been since August 2013 that the chapter first traveled to Gomoa Gyaman on an assessment trip in which the team met with community leaders and residents to learn about the needs of the community. The team learned that the community suffers from a sanitation issue due to a lack of adequate places to go to the bathroom. Much of the community practices open defecation while using the limited privacy of brush and other plants. The bathroom facilities that do exist are in very poor condition and pose structural safety threats. Children in the community are at high risk of contracting fecal-born diseases as most of the surface waters are polluted with human waste.

After two years of overcoming many design and logistical obstacles, we are returning to the community to begin construction on the first of four ventilated pit latrines. Each of the four latrines is designed to service one quarter of the community, roughly 800 residents, for at least five years before needing to be emptied. During our previous assessment trip, we learned that the community was not comfortable handling their waste themselves, making composting and other latrine types unfeasible. A professional waste removal service from a nearby city is able to be contracted to remove the waste as needed.

With less than two weeks until departure, the team is the most prepared they have been to make the largest impact in the community of Gomoa Gyaman! Stay tuned for our post-trip recap!

Technical Mentor Transition

Wil Painter has been with the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Engineers Without Borders student chapter since 2010 as the technical mentor. Wil traveled on a total of eight trips abroad to the communities of Batey Cinco Casas and Batey Santa Rosa in the Dominic Republic and Gomoa Gyaman in Ghana. In Batey Cinco Casas, Wil was instrumental in the design and construction of a hurricane resistant roof for a medical clinic which entirely enclosed the structure, allowing for installation of necessary medical equipment and overnight patient care. Another project for the medical clinic was the construction of a septic system which, in addition to the roof, allowed the hospital to expand more services to more patients. In Batey Santa Rosa, ventilated pit latrines were constructed to help relieve the community of the sanitation issues they faced.

The impact Wil Painter has made on the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology as well as in the communities of Batey Santa Rosa and Batey Cinco Casas in the Dominican Republic, and in the community of Gomoa Gyaman in Ghana will be felt forever. His generosity and technical expertise during the eight trips abroad from 2010 to 2014 allowed the student chapter to gain national recognition among academic and professional institutions. His contributions were invaluable to both the students he mentored and to the communities he served. We are all so grateful for Wil’s involvement with EWB and cannot thank him enough for his selfless dedication.

Roger Ward, a Rose-Hulman alumni, will be taking over as our new technical mentor effective immediately. Roger has extensive experience in the field of civil and environmental engineering as well service projects through the EWB-Indianapolis Professional Chapter. We are thankful for Roger’s willingness to be a part of our organization and we look forward to working with him!


Gratitude for Grads

As the 2014-2015 school year is drawing to a close, we would like to take time to thank all of our outstanding graduating seniors! We are incredibly thankful for all that each of you have contributed to EWB-RHIT over the years and we hope you found the deep enlightenment associated with helping those less fortunate than us. Whether you traveled abroad with EWB or not, we hope you realize the impact that each of you made on those in the communities we served.

We would also like to take this time to thank a special individual. Few members have devoted more of their time and energy into EWB-RHIT than our past president, marketing team manager, and treasurer, Jung Fang. Originally from China, Jung joined EWB his freshman year and made an immediate impact within the club. Jung traveled to the Dominican Republic his freshman year to implement latrines for the community of Batey Santa Rosa. Jung was also selected to travel on the implementation trip to Ghana last summer but was unfortunately unable to travel as the trip was cancelled due to health and safety risks in West Africa during last summer. Jung will be graduating this spring with a degree in chemical engineering and will be attending Georgia Institute of Technology in the fall to pursue his PhD. We wish Jung the best of luck at Georgia Tech and in all of his future endeavors. Jung is a valued member of EWB and his involvement has been critical to the club’s success over the years. We are all sad to see him go but excited for his future! Thanks again, Jung!


EWB Great Lakes Regional Spring Workshop 2015


From February 28 to March 1, seven students and our advisor John Aidoo had the opportunity to attend the EWB Great Lakes Regional Spring Workshop at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The two day conference included participants attending the 2015 Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship Summit, a dinner and discussion with members of other EWB chapters, and a Village Earth training session.

Club members spent the first day of the conference at the Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship Summit (APTE). The summit, which is held every year at Ohio State University, explores topics of social entrepreneurship in order to “educate and inspire future change makers.” This year’s summit featured seven speakers. First to present, setting the pace for the rest of the summit, was Jim Ziolkowski. Ziolkowski is the founder of BuildOn, an organization focused on empowering youth through service and breaking the cycle of poverty through education. He was followed by Jennifer Jin, an MIT Fellow, and Joe Degloss, the founder of Hot Chicken Takeover. Following lunch, the final four speakers presented, starting with Quijano Flores, the Co-founder of NextDrop. Next up was the inspirational Demetri Patitsas, the founder of Exela Ventures. Our chapter members learned a lot from his presentation including that “you can start making a difference before you’re 35” and “passion is what you are willing to struggle for.” The final two speakers of the summit were Bita Diomande, an MIT Fellow, and C. Nicolas Desrosiers, the Co-founder Qorax Energy. Our EWB members left the summit feeling inspired and with reassurance that each of us does of the ability to make an impact on the world.

Later that evening, students from EWB chapters across the Great Lakes Region met to discuss the APTE Summit. Chapters represented included the University of Toronto, Michigan Tech, Youngstown State and the University of Cincinnati. Our club members spent the evening sharing stories and ideas with each other about how to better connections between chapters, how to improve connections with our regional steering committee, and what members would like to see at the next workshop.

On Sunday, club members attended a Village Earth training session on community mobilization. The morning was spent learning about personal empowerment and the outcomes of promoting personal empowerment. Students also learned about the history of development through discussing the dependency and modernization theories. Despite being snowed in and having to remain in Columbus an extra evening, students learned a lot at the conference as well as bonded over exploring a college campus that is much larger than our small Rose-Hulman community.


Help us welcome the new EWB officers for 2015-2016!


Co-Presidents: Sanders Park (JR, Civil) and Amanda Sparks (JR, Civil)

Co-Engineering Managers: Andrew Roan (JR, Electrical) and Jordan Kamp (JR, Mechanical)

Fundraising Manager: Zhou Zhou (FR, Computer Engineering)

Marketing Manager: Daniel Reyna, (SO, Chemical)

Treasurer: Rachel Broughton (FR, Engineering Physics)

Secretary: Camille Blaisdell (FR, Biomedical)


The new officers will spend winter quarter training under the current officers to learn how fill their new roles. They will officially take office in the spring. Congratulations to all the new officers!


Global Engineering Conference in Panama City

Over Fall Break this year, part of our group took a trip to Panama for the Annual American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) conference. Normally, this would not be an event we would attend, but this year ASCE met up with EWB-USA to discuss the many points the two groups have in common and had students from both organizations attend.

The trip started early for Anna Tierney, Sanders Park, Daniel Renya, Amanda Sparks, and Dr. Kershaw, leaving Rose-Hulman at 3:45 in the morning to make it to the airport by 6. After 9 hours of travel, they arrived in Panama. After a quick check-in and dinner, they all walked to the hotel where the conference was held. After the opening ceremonies, they met with the Panama Canal Authority Administrator Jorge L. Qujiano and spoke about how the Panama Canal has changed in the 100 years since it has been built. They met a few fellow event goers at a networking dinner and then heading to bed.

As an attending student recounts,

“The following day, we rose early to listen to a talk entitled “Developing Sustainable Projects: Beyond Environmental Issues”. This session gave an overview on what EWB was and went into the details of how the community [thrived] after they left. After lunch we went to a talk which discussed the finer points of Giga project ethics. There was a presentation for those being inducted into the hall of fame, so we were done for the day and decided to spend the rest of the day exploring. We visited ancon hill and hiked to the top. From the peak you can see the whole of Panama City and its odd mixture of new and old. When our hike was done our group ventured into the old district of Panama, and wandered among the shops, old buildings, and historic sites. Among our favorite sites was the church of the golden alter, which holds a golden alter that was nearly captured by pirates 300 years ago. With sore feet we ended our night with a sea food restaurant overlooking the bay and a beach filled with hermit crabs. The next day started a little later, and after a coffee run we were ready to see the next presentation. Topics ranged from religion to school stereotypes. We were introduced to two mentors from EWB-USA and listened to their stories of building a well on an island in the Dominican Republic. ”

Their adventure came to an end and they returned home full of great memories as another student recaps: http://www.rose-hulman.edu/ewb/ewb-members-attend-global-engineering-conference-in-panama/

EWB-RHIT 5K Raises Money for Project in Ghana

Charity races are on the rise in the U.S. It’s an excellent opportunity for people to be healthy and get to know the host organizations at the same time. Engineers Without Borders hosted a 5K on October 18th, 2014 to raise money for latrines in Ghana. A total of 19 runners, 3 walkers and 10 volunteers participated in the event. There were two alumni, Ryann-Rebecca Montgomery and Haaken Hagen-Atwell, who were past engineering team managers. Also, Dr. John Gardner, who is a Spanish faculty and Dr. John Aidoo, a Civil Engineering faculty, participated in the event.

The winner, Andreas Maher, finished in 17 minutes and 6 seconds and the top five runners received a $15 gift card from Road Id. The event was a success, and people had the opportunity to be engaged with the EWB project. The club was able to interact with the local community and spread the word about what it does.