Posted by: jordanermilio | January 10, 2011

WfW’s Impact on the Villanova Undergraduate Experience

The role of the engineering team is challenging in that we often act as catalysts in the developing process. Our teams provide a number of services to Water for Waslala including feasibility studies, water resource assessments, preparing preliminary designs, reviewing final designs, completing engineering analyses, and monitoring and evaluating systems during and after construction.

Our work in Waslala also plays a key role in the education of young engineers, business and nursing students who have been participating in project-related activities.  By using their skills to provide water supply infrastructure to developing communities in Waslala, they ultimately gain valuable, marketable, hands-on engineering experience in return.

Gerard Jones book: "Gravity-Driven Water Flow in Networks"

Dr. Jones' book - Available at today

I would like to challenge everyone to identify any other universities that might take this unique, cross-functional approach to development work. Where else can you find a university president talking about students projects (including WfW) during commencement?  Where else will you find deans of the colleges literally getting dirt on their hands and shoes from a hard day’s work in a place like Waslala? Our College of Engineering dean has traveled to Waslala three times in as many years.  Many of our associate deans have traveled to Waslala countless times, and one associate dean has written an engineering text book to help students understand the design issues involved in providing water to rural communities (based on his experience in Waslala).  Over 100 undergraduate students have been touched by being directly involved in just this one project.

The people of Waslala are not only members of a community in need of assistance, but they have also become very close friends to me. Many of the students, volunteers and faculty can attest that the relationships built during their time in Waslala have truly changed their perception of the world. Over time, our friends in Waslala have become like brothers and sisters, and I can honestly say that they have inspired us to work harder so that we can assist them even more.



  1. Amen to that. The not-to-be named school that I attend has continually tried to pull the plug on this type of work- it is too risky from a legal perspective, and too difficult. Much more difficult than traditional education. Not only that, they question the technical validity in this type of work and attempt to discredit it, until they realize how technical it is, and then claim responsibility for its success. Villanova really is a unique place. It seems to understand the real value that engineering for a purpose has, and the benefit of sweating alongside those you are trying to help. Engineering skills combined with an understanding of social justice – that is a combination you simply cannot buy.

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