The students worked with non-governmental organization EcoViva, whose mission is to work in partnership with community-led organizations in Central America to achieve environmental sustainability, economic security, social justice and peace.
Rachel and her peers installed a well and solar-paneled water tank irrigation system as a demo for the El Salvadoran community where the students worked.
“Switching from the diesel engines they use now to the solar panels will save the small farmers money in their irrigation systems over the course of the next two-to-three years,” Rachel said. The students also collaborated with another group of student engineers from Iowa City to test salt levels in a local canal and community well, which will help them determine how deep a well needs to be in the area.
“The trip taught me that classroom engineering is no substitute for real-world engineering experience—solutions to real engineering problems are interpersonal and involve on-the-spot thinking,” Rachel said. “It motivates me to return to my internship at Garver and learn as much as I can from the engineers that have tons of experience.”