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A Thirst for Good
Notes: As a graduate of
California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, I am proud to share
this article that was published in the Fall, 2019, issue of Cultivate and reprinted by special permission.
A team of students from the California State
Polytechnic College BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department devoted
their senior project to designing and building a drill that will be used to
access water in remote and underdeveloped regions throughout the world.
The students spent more than 829 hours over
three quarters designing and fabricating the water well drill, making
improvements to an existing model that will enable it to be readily used in
drought-stricken areas that lack the resources to implement existing water
Soon the drill will be manufactured by
Aquafor, a humanitarian group founded by entrepreneur Matthew Talbert, who
studied business administration at Cal Poly in 1977. Talbert provided the
seven-member student team with an existing prototype and the $25,000 needed for
materials to build a new and improved model.
“All you have to do is go where people are
impoverished and see the struggles of the people who are living there to know
that something has to be done,” Talbert said. “People are walking miles and
miles for filthy water and that is unacceptable. We have it so fortunate here,
it is imperative that we give back.”
The Borelite Drill is a lightweight cable tool
water well drill that uses a repetitive motion to smash and chip away at soil
and rock. While existing drills use exorbitant amounts of water and fuel to
drill quickly, the student-built drill relies on a 10-horsepower engine and
only 10 gallons of water per day to drill.
“The drill will take longer to reach the
needed depth to acquire water, but in the impoverished areas that these drills
will be used, people have time, but they don’t have resources such as gas and
water,” said Peter Livingston, head of the BioResource and Agricultural
Students designed and built the drill, as well
as provided the design drawings needed to replicate it. The weight and size of
the final design allow for two fully constructed drills to be placed in a
shipping container and sent overseas to countries in need.
“This is designed specifically to be able
to function in some pretty harsh environments,” said Anthony Archuleta,
Aquafor’s director of corporate responsibility. “There is nothing proprietary
about it; the parts are available in most countries. Our goal is to use our
expertise acquired in other corporate ventures to get the drill into the places
it is needed using the relationships we have forged and be able to save lives.”
Talbert acquired the original concept for the
drill in the early 2000s from a service organization in San Luis Obispo, which
had worked with students in Cal Poly’s Mechanical Engineering Department.
However, years of delays prevented the concept from being fully realized. The
time has finally come, said Talbert, who hopes to have the water drill produced
and available next year. He envisions deploying it to areas in Central Asia,
South America and Africa.
“The value of a project of this caliber is that
it helps students realize the benefit of what they are doing for society,”
Livingston said. “We teach about ethics and world influences and it is
important that students are exposed to something other than a commercial entity
trying to build something to make a profit.”
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