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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: 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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Teachers’ Summer: Institute on Aquatic Systems. U. Florida, July 12-16, 2010

The Aquatic Systems: Emerging Problems and Creative Solutions Institute, University of Florida, July 12-16, 2010, highlights significant research on Florida coastal and inland aquatic systems. Activities include field work and laboratory activities suitable for all classes. The course emphasizes contaminants that affect human and environmental health. Eligibility: Secondary School Science Teachers. Cost: $450. Application Deadline: Not stated, but early registration encouraged. Update to be announced Spring 2011.

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Feature: Preparing for Rising Sea Levels

If all burning of fossil fuels were to cease tomorrow, the build-up of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere is still severe enough that in 2100, we are still looking at a world at least several degrees warmer than during the pre-industrial era. That warming brings with it certain hazards – droughts, the spread of infectious diseases, the extinction of species. One hazard in particular will require an engineering response: the rise of sea levels.

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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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Lesson: Way to Flow — Water Irrigation

irrigation_thumbThis lesson explores how civil engineering has solved the challenge of moving water through irrigation. Students work in teams to design and build their own model irrigation system out of everyday items. They test their systems, evaluate their results, and present their findings to the class.

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