Every Civil Engineering student at Umass Lowell must take a Senior Capstone class in order to graduate. Capstone normally entails a group of students working together to complete a design project that encompasses all of the aspects and skills they have learned throughout their engineering schooling. It’s a year-long class that everyone dreads taking because it is a large amount of work to design something that won’t ever actually be created.
Last year, a group of students decided that if they were going to invest all their time and effort into a major project like that, they would like to actually design something real. They reached out to a Civil Engineer in Boston, Craig Miller of Waterfield Design Group, who decided that he would team up with these UML students and help them attain their goal. Mr. Miller had been going to Haiti for several years prior, engineering new infrastructure and trying to make a difference in the country far less fortunate than ours. He decided it would be beneficial to both parties if he could take these students to Haiti with him and assist them in making their dream a reality.
After a week in Haiti and a full year of design, the students got their wish and actually saw the difference they made by creating something real. They planned and designed a “medical supply storage warehouse for the non-governmental organization Partners in Health (PIH) in Santo (Port-au-Prince), Haiti.” They were able to make a difference in this third world country just because they were ambitious enough to step outside the lines. Having spoken with them upon completion, they all said it was one of the coolest, most rewarding things they have ever done and would recommend that, given the opportunity, anyone should take part in the next project.
This January, a group of senior Civil Engineering students (including myself) are attempting to return to Haiti to design something new. At this point in time, it is not certain what the design will entail yet but Mr. Craig Miller is working with us again to find another project to design.
Unfortunately since this “Haiti Alternative Capstone” (as is it now known) is only in its second year, there is very limited funding from the University and nearly all of the money required to send us down there needs to be raised independently. There are several plans in progress to raise money for our cause including a Golf Tournament at Four Oaks in Dracut on August 11th, setting up a booth at the Lowell Food and Wine Festival to solicit donations, taking part in a Bike-a-Thon fundraiser, and others – so let me know if you would be interested in any of those!
Please visit umlcapstone.org or the flier for information regarding the tournament and for details on how to sign up! Feel free to contact the Umass Lowell students at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or donations you would like to make. Thanks for your assistance and to the Nextgen Golf team for allowing us to post this article on their page!