In-class work day

Thursday, February 11, 2016 (by Paolo Araneta)

The Home team continued to prepare their Introductory presentations, researching a variety of topics on Rwanda, including politics, economy, demographics, sanitation, and infrastructure. The Travel team began working on their individual technical topics for the final report. Many Home team members also began to work on their individual technical topics, as they already finished the presentation and report portion for their Introductory topics. In short, it was a simple, quiet work day.


Both Travel and Home teams hard at work, researching away


Also, it was the last class before the Travel team’s departure. The Travel team clarified final expectations and things to keep in mind before their upcoming flight. The Home team was notified to ask any last questions they had for the TA’s and the Travel team, as they would be unavailable in the upcoming week. The Home team wishes the Travel team a safe and wonderful journey!


Travel team member Elaina Plinke excited for the upcoming trip!

A tale of two teams

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 (by Kyle Solner)

In the main classroom, the home team works furiously, researching all things about Rwanda. Be it politics, economy, public health or geography, they aim to leave no piece of introductory information unturned. Other important topics being studied include climate & ecosystem, laws & regulations, food security, previous projects, and current energy, water, and sanitation sources/infrastructure.

Home team 1

Home team with their noses to the grindstone

home team 2

Home team with their noses to the grindstone

Upstairs, the travel team brainstorms interview questions for the Rwanda natives, narrowing down a list of questions developed via a combined-class discussion from previous class session. They know as well as anyone the criticality of carefully asking the right questions while overseas. These questions vary from “where do you obtain your drinking water?” to “what materials are locally available?” among others.


Team 2 Leader Nick Bolander studying away with the home team, energy drink at hand

Team 2 Leader Nick Bolander studying away with the home team, energy drink at hand

travel team

Travel team in the heat of discussion


Equipment packing

Saturday, February 6th 2016. The TAs of the class started to pack the equipment and materials needed for the trip to Rwanda. The field equipment will be used to analyze different water sources at the Gihembe Refugee Camp to assess the presence of chemical and microbial contaminants. Some water samples will be brought back to the University of Illinois for additional tests. The results of the analysis will be used by the teams to design integrated approaches that address the community needs at the water-health-energy-sanitation nexus.



Field equipment lab!

Fun day! The CEE449 students learned how to use Horiba probe, YSI probe, Hach fluoride probe, Hach AquaChek test strips, DR/890 portable colorimeter, DR2800 spectrophotometer, tubidity meter, digital titrator and 3M Petrifilm. The students were provided with tap water and groundwater, and needed to determine which water sample was which, based on the measurements. It was a tough question! Did everybody figure it out right? 😉

Equipment lab!!

Equipment lab!!

Field equipment lab preparation

Wednesday February 3, 2016.

The TAs for CEE449 prepared the upcoming laboratory class where the students will learn how to use the on-site water quality testing equipment. A couple of students who will not be able to attend the session came to the lab to receive a quick tutorial on all the equipment. Lauren and Gabrielle tested the viability of a potential outreach activity which attempts to teach primary school children about the presence of microbial contamination and the importance of water disinfection. Tonic water fluoresces when exposed to black light due to the presence of quinine, this fluorescence is eliminated when chlorine is added to the water. This demonstration is a good visual aid to exemplify that while the ‘microorganisms’ (the quinine) cannot be seen in clear water they might be present, and by using a disinfectant such as chlorine, they can be inactivated.

Lauren and Gabrielle 2

Lauren and GabrielleDaniel

Aimee and Daniel

Field experiences from CEE449 Spring 2015

Tuesday February 2nd, 2016 (by Chinelo Agbim)

Today the class received a presentation from the TAs; Yukako, Daniel, and Gabrielle. Yukako and Daniel spoke to us about proper citation practices and recommendations for making a good presentation. Daniel and Gabi spoke to us about what they saw in terms of water, sanitation, and energy challenges on past trips to Kenya and Uganda. Through these presentations we began to see how cultural norms and differences can play a role in access to safe water and the use of latrines. A major issue we also discussed was that of high fluoride levels in both surface and groundwater resources. Despite the fact that fluoride exposure often leads to dental fluorosis (brown tooth staining) and skeletal fluorosis (bone fragility). The team that worked in Uganda in 2015 saw that at the Oruchinga Refugee Settlement people choose fluoride contaminated water over water with high levels of iron because of aesthetics and lack of knowledge about fluorosis. Based on these presentations, we then broke into groups and discussed interview questions for the community and refugee camp we will be working with.

Past trips 2015

Researching candidate technologies

During the second week of class the students were split into three teams. Each team has the guidance and support of a graduate Teaching Assistant (TA) whose area of expertise is in drinking water quality.  Within a team each student will perform an extensive research on a specific technology to determine if it can be used as an alternative to address the challenges on water/sanitation/energy at the Gihembe Refugee Camp in Rwanda.


Teaching assistant Daniel Mosiman coordinates team 1


Teaching assistant Gabrielle Levato coordinates team 2


Teaching assistant Aimee Moore coordinates team 3