International Service Project - Nicaragua

Service Learning - Nicaragua

Since 2004, Water for Waslala has been a key partner for the VESL program. Faculty and students travel to Nicaragua each year to evaluate water resources in low-income rural communities, and incorporate potential development projects into the undergraduate senior design curriculum. Students on these trips are expected to identify areas of need, and also build relationships with local partners and organizations in this central mountain region. In addition to the design and implementation of water supply networks and the improvement of water quality, multidisciplinary engineering work is also being done in the areas of renewable energy and communication systems (see Nova Mobile Health).

More recent work has included:

  • Technical support for water supply projects
  • Sustainable WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) and capacity building
  • Selecting pipe sizes for a new system in Los Mangos based on population elevation changes and distances between homes
  • Designing a suspension bridge for a stream crossing to support a network pipe

The local implementing partner for water supply projects in Nicaragua is ADIS: Asociaciûn de Desarrollo Integral y Sostenible. 

Service Learning - Nicaragua

Student Reflections

“In Waslala, I was a part of a water supply group whose initiatives included water sources, transport and quality.  The types of water systems we are trying to develop here are gravity driven. This limits possible water sources to those with a higher elevation than the community that will be served. The higher you go, the better the water quality, but it adds more difficulties as far as building the intake and laying the piping for the water system itself. You need to transport concrete, piping and tools into a very dense part of the mountain jungle to start building this system. The elevation also means that the pipe line will need multiple pressure brake points. It was interesting to discover the huge number of obstacles that stood in the way between a community and the construction of what would seem to be an extremely simple and small scale water system. My trip to Waslala was indeed an eye opening, enriching and rewarding experience. Trips like these really are once in a life time opportunities and the only regret I have is not going on one sooner.” —Philip Arets ’13 ME


Water for Waslala

Water for Waslala, Fall 2014

To Apply

At this time, summer and winter service trips to Nicaragua are being conducted on an invitation-only basis and are reserved for students who need to travel for project specific purposes. Other students may pursue service trips to Waslala during the spring and fall breaks. Deadlines and an application form are available here.

Learn More

For more information or to help support international service projects, contact Director Jordan Ermilio at or 610-519-6859. You can also make a donation through the University website, designating your gift to “Engineering Service Learning.”