October 11, 2011 at 4:00 AM
Have you ever stopped to think about how essential food and water are for life? Jon Crisafi has.
Crisafi (graduate-transportation engineering) is the president of Engineering Students for International Outreach, a group dedicated to providing food, water and shelter to many underprivileged regions of the world in various ways.
Their approach is broken down three-fold, beginning with the Sustainable Structures Initiative. This focuses on two specific projects: funding, designing and implementing a schoolhouse in Cambodia and a Solar Water Wall in Morocco.
The schoolhouse was the first project when Brian Cantalupi, Class of 2007, founded the group as a class project during his senior year. His original goal was to design a sustainable schoolhouse and raise $15,000 to pay for it. He quickly discovered that it was against university policy to allow fundraising outside of student organizations.
"I was thrilled with [Cantalupi], thinking that an organization like this was necessary," said group advisor Rick Schuhman, the Walter L. Robb director of Engineering Leadership Development.
They are still working out the logistics of funding the school because it is difficult to commission a project without enough contacts on-location, Crisafi said.
Prototypes are currently underway for the Solar Water Wall, which is meant to be a wall constructed entirely out of used water bottles, refilled with water to collect sunlight and give off heat at night.
The second tier of the program is the Water Resources Engineering Initiative. It is centered around work with "passive chlorinators" and "rain water harvesters," Crisafi said. Passive chlorinators are small-scale water purifiers that will be produced for about $20 each to provide underdeveloped areas with a plausible way to have clean water.
Rain water harvesters, on the other hand, are intended to increase water quantity in Mexico City and the club is hoping to travel there this summer to help install some of them.
The final tier is the Food Security Engineering Initiative. The main focus with this is to increase the production of the cash crop Baobab in the Republic of Togo, Mozambique and hopefully Ghana by building a machine that harvests them quickly and easily, Crisafi said.
They are also a pilot distributor for Integrated People, an organization dedicated to reducing pollution in Pakistan by collecting plastic bags and making them into new things, such as roofs, tarps, ropes and even bracelets. While the other products are intended for use in Pakistan, the bracelets are sent here and sold by ESIO to raise money for other projects.
The bracelets are sold on Wednesdays from 3-6 p.m. in front of The Corner Room.
For students who want to be involved, the group welcomes members from any major and always needs extra help in communicating with donors or selling the bracelets. They are also currently searching for someone to manage their web site.
Above all, Crisafi said, "There is no reason, with everything that we have in the world, that there should be anyone without food, water and a house."