Updated 05/15/2012 06:46 PM
RPI students helping Haiti
A group of students from RPI lend a helping hand to Haiti. When that devastating earthquake hit back in 2010, 30 orphans had to move outside the country's capital city, but our Solomon Syed tells us how the Engineers for a Sustainable World are using smarts to put a roof over their heads.
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TROY, N.Y. -- To most people, it looks like an ordinary steel shipping crate, but to orphans in Haiti, it'll be an extraordinary shelter.
"A few of us Rensselaer students went down to Haiti in January 2010, we actually got stuck down there during the earthquake," said Andrew Chung, president of RPI's Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW).
The students escaped, but witnessed the quake's deadly power first-hand, with many of them leaving their hearts in Haiti. They decided they wanted to give back, the best way they knew how.
"It really did push me to engineer something with a purpose, something that would change lives," said Chung.
Using their ingenuity, they spent the entire semester converting this hunk of metal into a fully sustainable, secure bedroom. Powered by solar energy, it'll have electricity, 11 beds and even a ventilation system to make sure children sleep soundly in the tropical heat. For the students, the project earned them course credits in the capstone design class.
"Satisfying both their desire for the altruistic service type projects, as well as using their engineering skills," said ESW faculty adviser Michael Jensen.
"Over time, it's become a labor of love and I'm really excited with how it turned out," said ESW member Dylan Martinez.
There's no denying this structure is a testament to the students' intelligence, but they say there's nothing better than using their brains and brawn to help others.
"It's really become something special and looking at this project from the beginning, to see it come full swing, it's really been something else," said Martinez.
The students aren't finished quite yet. They'll travel back to Haiti in August to help install the bedroom at a local orphanage and train caretakers how to maintain it.
"I have this warm, fuzzy feeling inside," said Chung.