Sarah Germain, 2013, Operations Research and Financial Engineering

This summer I spent one month in the town of Samne, Peru. Along with six other Princeton undergraduate and graduate students and a professional engineer mentor, we implemented phase one of a gravity-fed water distribution system in the settlement of La Pitajaya, Peru. We represented the travel team of the student organization, Engineers Without Borders – Princeton, the goal of which is to implement sustainable engineering projects in the developing world. We ran into delays on the ground, but were able to complete the source collection, the reservoir base, and about 1 km of piping between the source and the reservoir. We plan to return next summer to finish the water system and bring potable water to the people of La Pitajaya. The opportunity to apply engineering concepts on the ground made me appreciate my studies at Princeton, but also made me reflect on how incorporating community wants and needs into the project is often more challenging than the engineering design problem itself. Working alongside the people of La Pitajaya, who are incredibly motivated to improve the well being of their community, was truly a rewarding experience and makes me want to find ways to make international development even more effective in the future.