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The Engineers Without Borders team watch as the drill attempts to hit water.

From Zambia to Jackson: Local engineer brings service project skills to Waggoner Engineering

Children from the village of Simwatachela, Zambia observe the Engineers Without Borders team drilling.

Children from the village of Simwatachela, Zambia observe the Engineers Without Borders team drilling.

For dozens of families in Simwatachela, Zambia, the road to clean, life-sustaining water goes through Starkville, Miss. Thanks to Waggoner Engineering’s Katie Bryant, who as a student at Mississippi State University, participated in a trip to the impoverished country through Engineers Without Borders to deliver clean water to the remote African village.

Bryant couldn’t predict a gratifying service experience in college building wells would serve her well in her current role in Waggoner’s water resource department.

“We encourage our engineers to be a part of the local and global community,” said Hunter Arnold, leader of Waggoner’s Water Resources & Coastal group. “Katie Bryant is a great example of using her engineering expertise to provide clean water to an extremely underserved community in Africa, skills that she has brought with her on the job to serve communities here in Mississippi.”

Katie Bryant

Katie Bryant

Bryant, with the help of Engineers Without Borders, participated in a trip during the summer of 2014 while a student at Mississippi State University to fulfill a need for clean water in Zambia.

“My freshman year consisted of little involvement outside of class,” said Bryant. “By my sophomore year, I wanted something new to invest my time in. I discovered Engineers Without Borders, an organization different from any other college extracurricular, that would not only benefit me but many others.”

Engineers Without Borders empowers communities worldwide through engineering projects to meet basic human needs. Bryant decided to join, but little did she know how big a role this group would play in her remaining time at Mississippi State and enhance her professional engineering career after graduating.

Bryant quickly learned of the club’s major project in Simwatachela, Zambia – developing a system of hand-pump water wells where clean water sources are scarce. She became heavily involved in the club in order to be one of the six students chosen to go to Africa the following summer. After months of paperwork and preparation, Bryant soon found herself making the long journey from Jackson, Miss., to the remote villages in Zambia to help in the well building efforts.

The team made their way to the Simwatachela village that would be their home for the next several days. Each day the group would split up: half the team would go on site assessments to evaluate future well locations, while the other half spent the day assisting the drillers at the well site.

By the second day of drilling Bryant was at the site assessment group.  She and the team visited potential sites for wells to be drilled the following summer.  When the team returned to the well hours later, Bryant witnessed dozens of villagers smiling– the drillers had hit water and the well was producing thirty gallons per minute!

The well provides dozens of families with a fresh water supply. Bryant and her team brought something the village had always wanted and needed- clean water to drink, grow their gardens and feed their livestock. Bringing clean water to people who have none is bringing them life, and the impact she made on these peoples’ lives still weighs heavily on her as she continues in her career at Waggoner Engineering- now serving her own community’s water resource needs.


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