G.O. Ministries, Santiago, Dominican Republic (January 2-9, 2010)
In my first year as a professor at UE, I was also able to participate in a service learning experience. Through the senior capstone design program in mechanical engineering, I served as the advisor for a team of students who were tasked with the design of a solar thermal water heater. The customer is/was G.O. Ministries, a Christian nonprofit that supports pastors and Christian workers in the Dominican Republic (http://www.goministries.org/partners_dominican.shtml). A dormitory is under construction to house visiting volunteer teams with the ministry. Hot water delivery is difficult due to electricity costs and power outages. The ministry requested a solar powered water heater to alleviate these concerns. The ministry is also interested in the idea of constructing and selling solar water heaters in the Dominican Republic as a source of income.
The goal of the trip was to allow the engineering team to construct and test a prototype "in the field" and use the data to validate their physics based math model. Both engineering and business teams also participated in G.O. Ministries activities including feeding homeless at a city dump and assisting with the construction of ministry buildings.
While in Evansville, the engineering team worked on a plethora of engineering challenges:
- Designing, testing, and evaluating solar collector and absorber designs while...
- Utilizing materials that were cheap and readily available in the Dominican Republic
- Making the design passive so that no electricity is needed for operation
- Ensuring the design could be constructed using technical skill levels available in the Dominican Republic
- Creating a math model that could be used to scale the system for use in different sized buildings
- Establishing a plan to integrate the solar water heater into the ministry's current plumbing system
This was a wonderful opportunity for the students since it fulfilled the UE mission so well in the form of senior capstone design, cross-discipline interaction, global learning, and service learning. It is my prayer that the students were challenged and inspired by the trip to use their skills and knowledge as engineers to serve humanity on a global scale.
ME team members included Andrew Rister, Bonnie Koopmann, Slavic Velet, and Matt Kauffman. Business students included Margaret Work, Meredith Woehler, Jose Bertolo Arraez, and Luis David Sena. Faculty advisers were John Layer, LaShone Gibson, and myself.
By constructing the test apparatus on site, the team was able to determine best construction practices and then document these for the customer (G.O. Ministries).
As a design requirement, the students were challenged to source only locally available supplies.
The finished test apparatus worked so well that the ministry asked to keep it for actual use!