Students Collect Surveying Data During Mission Trip to Honduras

During fall break in October, ten students from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) and three non-engineering Villanova students made a mission trip to Amigos de Jesús, an orphanage for boys in Honduras. Using high-quality surveying equipment, the students collected data that will provide the basis for a senior capstone project in the spring, the purpose of which will be to determine the feasibility of the following options for the orphanage:

  • The development of hydroelectric power
  • The irrigation of fields to grow crops
  • The creation of a solar energy field

Under the leadership of Associate Professor Frank Falcone, PE, BCE '70, MSWRE '73, the students gathered information about water supply, land elevation, and other topographical factors—often working in jungle-like conditions. "They never complained but did everything I asked them to do and more," Professor Falcone said. "It was a pleasure to be with them."

The trip also provided the students with a valuable service-learning opportunity. It exposed them to a different culture, broadened their worldview, and helped them appreciate how their engineering skills can improve the quality of life for others, especially those in developing countries.

Alaina Haggerty '09, one of the civil engineering students who went on the trip, said, "I wanted not just to step out of my comfort zone but to see how my major can make an impact on a place like Honduras." Fellow senior Justin DiBiase saw firsthand how a place like Honduras made an impact on the students. "In one short but fulfilling week, the children in the orphanage helped us grow and mature," he said.

Since 2000, civil engineering students have designed and built various structures at Amigos de Jesús, including an eight-building school complex. Mission trips are sponsored by the CEE Department and Campus Ministry.

Students surveying a potential site
In addition to collecting data for a senior capstone project this spring, students surveyed a potential site for the construction of a bridge.
Professor Falcone, Villanova Students and children
Professor Falcone, Villanova students, and children from the orphanage walked to Sunday morning Mass in the nearby town.