The College of Engineering’s students, faculty, and alumni exemplify the University’s Augustinian tradition of serving communities in need through service learning projects around the world. Villanova engineers work with people in those communities to design and build sustainable water systems, renewable energy systems, and buildings that support the communities.
In the processes of helping to create safe and healthy communities, students learn skills and develop insights that will stay with them throughout their lives. This provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the relevance of classroom and laboratory experiences within a real world context. Working with faculty and alumni advisors, students learn about construction techniques, project management, community relations, and working in an international environment. Because these are principally student-led programs, they develop leadership skills that will be critical as they begin professional careers.
In the past year, four programs – some newly formed, others with long track records of success, engaged the Villanova Engineering community in service projects: Amigos de Jesus Orphanage in Honduras, Water for Waslala in Nicaragua, Engineers without Borders in Thailand, and a senior design project in the Philippines.
Amigos de Jesus
The annual trip to Amigos de Jesus is a part of a service-learning course that is an outgrowth of the spring semester Senior Capstone Design Project in Structural Engineering. For the past seven years, students in that course have worked on various structural designs for a Catholic home for abused and abandoned boys in Honduras. Each Spring Break, a portion of the class has traveled to Honduras with the professors and a few CE underclassmen on an associated mission trip in which they work on the construction of those designs. The mission trip is co-sponsored by the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, the College of Engineering, and Campus Ministry. The trip incorporates all aspects of a service learning experience (preparation, service, reflection, and celebration).
This year's design project was a computer laboratory for an eight building school complex on the Amigos de Jesus site. The bilingual school will serve the children at Amigos de Jesus and the surrounding villages. Villanova students and faculty constructed the ten foundations for the building in March. To date, all eight buildings have been designed by students in the structural engineering capstone course over the past three years. Two buildings are operational and three others are under construction. To learn more about this service project, please check the following link.
Water for Waslala
The Water for Waslala program began in 2002 when a small group of Villanova students from different colleges on campus went to Waslala, Nicaragua, and saw the desperate need to design and support a system for bringing clean water to this poor community. They helped form a non-profit organization to support the project, and Villanovans have been going back every year since. During spring 2007 break, a College of Engineering team of faculty and students went to Waslala, where over the years since 2002 the College has been involved in bringing potable water into the homes of the residents of this remote town. This year, in addition to the engineers working on the water systems, a contingent of nursing students accompanied them to provide health services to the residents. For more information, please check: http://www.waterforwaslala.org