Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

This spring break gave 10 students the opportunity to complete projects in Bogota, Colombia and Lima, Peru! Here are a couple videos with some footage from each.

Bogota, Colombia

Rainwater Harvesting and Landslide Mitigation


Cieneguilla, Peru

Surveying and water resources infrastructure at the Wesfalia Kinderdorf Orphanage

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Hello! Since our last post we’ve continued to prepare ourselves for this life-changing adventure. We’ve held several meetings to discuss what we need to take and what we already have so we can work toward getting the necessary tools and materials. We also sent in our passports to get our Chinese visas! The next step is to fully analyze the bridge and determine things such as the amount of concrete we need, logistics of getting everything there to the site, the tools we need to bring, and how to best repair the portion of the bridge that is sagging. We still have a lot of planning and preparations, but we have made good progress and intend to keep pushing forward! Another portion of our trip is attending an international concrete conference. Two papers will be submitted, on concrete research and this bridge reconstruction. We are excited and busy, with less than two months until departure.

Until next time,

ESA Team Mongolia

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A big thanks to Erik for putting this post together!  A few days ago, we gave you information on the Rainwater Collection Project in Colombia, and we thought we would update you on our other big project in the beautiful country.

Field Visit and Site Investigation
The Landslide Stabilization Project benefited greatly from the multiple site visits during our time in Colombia. We were able to physically walk up and down the landslide that we are in the process of stabilizing. We had the pleasure of meeting the individuals whose homes have been damaged by this slowly moving landslide, and we gained further understanding of the interactions of surface water and groundwater with the landslide. While we were there, a drilling company was in the process of drilling and logging core at multiple points along the slide. These samples will be tested for soil properties to apply to our computer models of this slide. Below is a diagrammatic image of one of the computer models used for stabilization analysis.

Usme Landslide

Future Goals
• By June 2014
1. Apply soil properties to landslide models
2. Prepare a technical document to give to the local mayor to provide funding for implementation

• By June 2015
1. Collaborate with the students in Colombia to finalize a design for a passive, low maintenance drain and trench system to move water quickly off the surface and from within the slide to improve stabilization of the slope
2. Implement our collaborative design on this landslide

We are looking forward to continuing the landslide stabilization project with the PUJ students! Below is a picture of some of our team at the landslide site.

Landslide Work


Our cultural immersion post is coming soon!

-ESA Team Bogotá

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April 1st, 2014

The pun was intended. :)

The ESA Bogotá team from SDSM&T returned from Colombia with many new ideas to continue the projects, as well as a fresh outlook on life!  We are so thankful to the gracious hosts from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana who made our trip one that will not be forgotten.

The Rainwater Collection Project has made great progress because of the trip, mostly on account of being able to actually see the house where it will be used.  We now understand how the structure is set up and the exact uses for the water.

The figure below demonstrates the ideas we hope to implement:


Suggestions After Observation:

• Roofing Material – plastic will be better (no oxidation; will decrease metal content)

• Screen/Filter – place a mesh covering across the gutter to protect the system from leaves, rocks, etc. (plastic netting?)

• Gutter - something that does not oxidize (single gutter, not two); slope a connecting gutter along the wall to the storage tank

• First flush system – ball and tube set-up

• Sand/Carbon Filter – layers of charcoal, cloth, sand, and pebbles in a bucket

• Storage tank – one large plastic reservoir; closed system with vent on the side (not the top – cleaner)
o Move container near the inlet to the house (shorter hoses); flow will be better because of shorter hoses and reduce dangers of tripping

• Drain on rooftop for excess water – very small relief trench that slopes down to remove the water off the balcony

Future Goals:

By the end of the semester -
1. Build prototype of system at SDSM&T and send PUJ the steps to recreate it
2. Test water quality of permeate through carbon/sand filter
3. Begin first draft of manual for the people of Usme

By the end of next year -
1. Implement the design on the house in Usme
2. Finish manual to present to the Usme community


We are so excited to continue working with PUJ students on this project!  Below is a picture of the SDSM&T students and a few of the PUJ students on the way to Usme.

Bogota van

Stay tuned for our future posts on the Landslide Mitigation Project and our “cultural immersion!”


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March 31st, 2014

Hello IBM,

March has been a hectic month out in South Dakota! At the end of February IBM granted the Smarter Planet gift to the Engineers and Scientists Abroad (ESA) at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology to help the six-student team travel to a Chilean orphanage. While many upgrades and advancements can be made to the orphanage, the team is focusing on a graywater system and a water tank as the main projects to execute.

This month, a few designs for the graywater system have been considered. It will probably be installed above ground, due to the clay in the area. We don’t know if a backhoe will be available for digging, and we want to avoid wasting time away from the actual project assembly. Pipes and sand are ready for the projects in Chile. Once we get some flow measurements from the orphanage organizers, the design will come together!

Thank you again IBM for helping us out. More details to come!

Here is a photo from our first fundraiser. We have been cooking chili for free will donations. From the left the team is Chris, Riley, Christian, Trevor, Katelyn, Cat.

ESA chili feed

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