Students learn from villagers in Tanzania

CSE Global Studies seminar marks 10 years

In the decade since Paul Strykowski co-created the Global Studies seminar “Design for Life: Water in Tanzania” at the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering, more than 100 students have visited 24 villages in the southern highlands of Tanzania to bring clean and safe water to nearly 20,000 residents there. 

This winter break, another group of students—representing several majors across the college—will spend 18 days, traveling and evaluating community needs and available infrastructure. Designing the right potable water-handling system comes next. 

“Ten years went fast, and it's one of the coolest things I've done in this college as a faculty member,” said Strykowski, the George W. Taylor Distinguished Professor in Mechanical Engineering. “Long term, I hope the program lasts forever. I'd love to see it expanded into other parts of the world.

Upon their return to Minnesota, CSE students present their designs to St. Paul Partners, which has staff based in the Iringa region and support from the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam. The proposals deemed sustainable and reliable by the nonprofit eventually become a reality.

“We have a great support staff in Iringa where we go,” Strykowski said. “They help with driving and translating, and they’re the ones who are there when we are not—making sure all the gear and equipment we help design is working and if anything is in disrepair, they work with the village to fix it or raise the money to replace the part.”

Follow the students's blog (beginning December 28) or learn more about the program on the CSE Tanzania Global Seminar website.

Story by Pauline Oo; interview by Katelyn Mayne

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Posted Dec. 21, 2023