The Marquette University chapter of Engineers without Borders has been selected as a regional finalist for the CLASSY Awards, the largest philanthropic awards ceremony in the country.
The Marquette project is one of five Midwest regional finalists in the CLASSY AWARDS Small Charity of the Year category. The project is currently soliciting support through online voting to advance to the national stage of the CLASSY Competition.
The Marquette chapter, made up of about 20 students is being recognized for its work in helping provide electricity and other improvements to a rural community in Guatemala for the past five years.
According to Rachel Beyer, a junior engineering student at Marquette and project lead the students travel to La Communidad de La Nueva Providencia to help villagers improve their community. So far the students have helped install solar powered LED lights in homes and outdoors and build a bridge in the community.
“This project is really an electrification project,” Beyer said. “We are trying to provide the community there a way to access off the grid electricity in order to supply power to their community buildings and their homes.”
So far the students have installed 24 solar panels that currently supply power to the community center, a school kitchen, a mill and two churches, Beyer said. The students have also installed 13 street lights and 30 out of 51 total homes in the community have been wired to have three lights and one electrical outlet.
“It’s all about relationships,” Beyer said. “When we go, we work side-by-side with the villagers. It’s not us doing service for them, it’s us working together to bring the community what it determines they need.”
During the second phase of the project, which the students are fundraising for now, the students plan to build and install infrastructure for a micro-hydroelectric turbine which would re-route a mountain spring through a turbine to also generate electricity.
“Guatemala is a very mountainous region,” Beyer said. “We plan to re-route spring water about 1500 feet using piping so it runs down the cliff through a turbine that will generate electricity for the villagers to use,” Beyer said.
The CLASSY Awards ceremony is the largest philanthropic awards ceremony in the country. It celebrates the greatest charitable achievements by nonprofit organizations, businesses and individuals worldwide. Five regional finalists are selected for 16 categories. Online voting continues through Thursday, July 26. Regional winners will be announced on Monday, July 31 and National winners will be announced in September. National winners will receive consulting and fundraising support from eBay Giving Works, PayPal and eBoost.
To vote for the Marquette project, visit go.mu.edu/muclassy. The online votes account for half of a team’s score; the remaining half is based on votes from previous CLASSY Award winners.