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Student, Faculty and Alumni Team Tackles Panamanian Water Systems and Parish Construction

By Griffin Davis ’22 EE

During the University’s spring break, the Villanova Engineering Service Learning (VESL) program launched six trips to partner communities across the globe. One such trip was to the city of Torti, Panama, and its surrounding areas, namely Chepo Bayano and Quebrada Cali. On these Panamanian service trips, which have occurred annually since 2008, Villanova teams typically provide technical assistance with the Cañasas water system and the rehabilitation of the Agua Fria water storage and treatment facility. They also work hand in hand with local teams on various engineering design projects, with the primary goal of providing value-added services for long-time project partner, Father Wally Kasuboski.

This year, eight Civil and Environmental Engineering students, one graduate student, two faculty advisors and five alumni joined together to complete three principle projects:

Parroquial de Torti Parish foundation construction

The Parroquial de Torti Parish had inherited plans for a new building, but Villanova’s team completed surveying and discovered potentially critical issues with the existing foundation. Working alongside local partners, the team was able to make changes in the field using AutoCAD before assisting Fr. Wally’s employees with laying PVC pipes and concrete.

Water system analysis and surveying

The VESL team conducted social surveys, took GPS data, and inspected components of Quebrada Cali community’s water system.

Air-release valve installation

Several air release valves were installed on the Cañasas water system in order to remove air pockets in local high points and increase waterflow to thousands of people.

Villanova’s Engineering Service Learning trips are a unique and impactful way to gain technical experience and make lifelong connections. The trip to Panama and Father Wally’s community is only one example; there are many more opportunities available throughout the year.

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