Student project hopes to impact Guatemalan women

Cooper Eng ShowcaseMadison Cooper, an undergraduate student in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, participated in the 2016 Engineering Project Showcase on April 29. Over 150 engineering projects from every discipline within the Dwight Look College of Engineering were on display. The team, the Guatemala Project, competed in the Engineering Projects in Community Service division of the showcase that focuses on projects completed by multidisciplinary and multi-level student teams as part of a technical elective course. These projects are focused on engineering design, span several semesters, and are usually sponsored by nonprofit organizations.

The team, which includes Cooper ’18, chemical engineering students Joe Hall ’17 and Ben Hall ’17, and general engineering student Isabel Hegedus ’19, sought to provide a solution for the Texas A&M Conflict and Development Center’s Guatemala project to enhance the livelihood and incomes of rural women by building facilities for women to bring their home grown vegetables to be washed and packaged. The women can then sell their washed and packaged produce to make money for their families. These facilities only have one sink to wash with and a high volume of produce to be washed, which is the problem that Cooper and her team hope to solve with its project.

They developed a human powered mechanical device operated by a foot pedal which spins a mesh basket that is partially submerged in the sink. The vegetables inside the basket are agitated by the motion, which cleans off the dirt like a washing machine cleans clothing. In June 2016, the center will take the 3-D model and engineering drawings of the project to Guatemala where a local engineer will fabricate a full sized prototype to be tested in the facilities. If all goes well with the testing phase, more will be manufactured and one will be delivered to each of these facilities. If each facility receives one of these devices, Cooper and her team’s project will impact the lives of over 2,000 Guatemalan women.

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Contributing author: Ryan Terry