Env. Resources Students Visit Oaxaca

Faculty, alumni, and students from Humboldt State University's environmental resources engineering department traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico for spring break, implementing a workshop on water reclamation and wetland treatment at Universidad Autónoma "Benito Juárez" de Oaxaca (UAJBO).

This workshop was an integral part of Humboldt State University’s continuing sister-university relationship with UAJBO, initiated by President Richmond several years ago.

The HSU representatives teamed with Oaxacan students, faculty, and environmental professionals to create a conceptual design for a water reclamation/wetland treatment system to be built on the UAJBO campus this summer.

Workshop activities included lectures, field trips, discussions, and small group interactions. The last two days of the workshop were spent in small groups, each group working on an alternative system. These alternatives were then presented to the entire group and decided on. Workshop facilitators HSU professor, Bob Gearheart, and Peter Hasse, HSU alumnus and owner of Fallcreek Engineering in Santa Cruz, agreed that the chosen alternative was a sustainable and constructible system.

Hasse’s Fallcreek Engineering donated a drip-irrigation system to UAJBO, the first step in the water reclamation project. The system was installed during the workshop and Rector Francisco Martinez Neri of UAJBO led a groundbreaking ceremony celebrating this new outreach effort.

Next, UAJBO will develop relationships with local contractors and prepare for a targeted August start date. ERE students and faculty will continue to participate the process, which will include technical assistance to the water quality laboratory at the university, initiation of a wetland plant nursery, and assisting in the development and monitoring of the system operational plan.

The students from HSU were all members of Engineers Without Borders, a chapter of the national and international Engineers Without Borders. The alumni were all graduates of the international technology development program and environmental systems master’s program at HSU.

This experience was an opportunity for students to participate in an on the ground environmental resource problem with all the constraints commonly found in locations around the world and also to experience rural Oaxaca’s environmental conditions and engineering technologies.