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Engineers Without Borders: Dr. Brian Pompeii in Malawi

Brian Pompeii with students in Malawi

During winter break 2016-2017, Cal Poly Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Malawi Group continued their fifth year of collaboration with the small community of Kumponda near Blantyre, Malawi. The team consisted of students Torrey Sanseverino, Sydney Poyd, David Wright and Tristen Wastell, along with faculty advisor Dr. Brian Pompeii. Globally, EWB seeks to foster collaboration between engineers and communities with the goal of improving access to basic human needs.

The goal of this three week trip was to continue work on a bicycle-powered maize mill and to conduct a qualitative assessment of community resource needs. The mill will be used to grind maize into a fine flour to produce nsima, the principle food item of the region. The completion of the mill will save community members the cost and time required to travel to local electric or gas powered mills.

Brian Pompeii with students in Malawi

The qualitative assessment revealed that Kumponda’s primary resource need is improved access to water. ANT-GEOG major Torrey Sanseverino used data collected from the assessment and GIS to find the optimal location for a new groundwater well that takes into consideration the population served and distance to other water sources. The team, with some additional members, plans to revisit the community in December 2017 to complete the maize mill, oversee the drilling of a new well, and implement a new water pump and basin of their design.

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