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Feature: Bill Gates Wants to Reinvent Toilets

africaEngineering researchers who toil in the field of sanitation, especially sanitation for the world’s poorest citizens, used to find that their field carried about as much cachet as a fly-ridden latrine. Not anymore. In July, 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced eight grants totaling $3 million for university engineering projects to “Reinvent the Toilet.”

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Feature: Low Cost, High Impact

salad-spinnerIn many poor, rural areas of the world, scourges like malaria, HIV/AIDS, and malnutrition are endemic. Blood tests for anemia are a quick way to diagnose them, but it can take days to get results back from hospitals many miles away. Last year, a multidisciplinary team of Rice University undergraduates devised a clever solution: It’s a centrifuge fashioned from a common salad spinner.

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Lesson: Harvest Water from Fog

Cape VerdeIn this lesson from the Peace Corps, students in grades 4-12 learn how harvesting water from fog can help people who have limited access to fresh water. They study the water challenges in Cape Verde, and the technology and benefits of fog water collectors. They then build and evaluate a own working model.

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Lesson: Build a Solar Still

Water CycleIn this lesson from the Peace Corps, students in grades 3-8 learn how to generate fresh water from seawater, using the power of the sun. They study the water challenges in Cape Verde and the advantages of distilling water through a simple solar sill. They then build and evaluate a working model.

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Students Converge to Talk Water

Children Get Fresh Water from the US NavyThree rivers run through Pittsburgh, so it is blessed with an abundance of potable water. But 3 billion people across the globe, nearly half the world’s population, don’t have ready access to fresh water. That was the lesson driven home to 550 high school students at a recent daylong tutorial sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.

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Lesson: Landfills and Contamination

What happens to garbage? In this lesson, students grades 9-12 derive the answer by building their own landfill. While observing how household waste can leach into soil and groundwater, they also learn the importance of well supervised, sanitary disposal sites.

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Feature: Open Door, Open Heart

Students have to grapple with real-world applications of environmental engineering, Prof. Jeanine Plummer of Worcester Polytechnic Institute believes: “They need to see how it applies, why it’s important — ‘why am I here’ sort of questions.” An article from ASEE’s Prism magazine.

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Engineer Profile: Marc Edwards

First, Marc Edwards discovered high levels of lead in Washington D.C.’s drinking water, then he had to persuade the bureaucracy to get the word out — an article from ASEE’s Prism magazine, by Pierre Holme-Douglas

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Feature: Earth Day, Every Day

Environmental engineer Alexandria Boehm teaches environmental law and science policy at Stanford University Law School, exploring topics like beach pollution and disappearing wetlands. She also travels the world to aid coast communities, and recently spent three months studying polluted drinking water in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

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