Four sharp-witted engineering students are utilizing their skills acquired at one of the nation’s largest HBCUs to aid impecunious residents in North Africa.

These socially conscious young women are in Khartoum, Sudan to present at the Knowledge Management Capacity Conference on their unprecedented work to bring clean water to a village in Kenya through their handiwork with Engineers Without Borders.

“We are excited about this opportunity to showcase our work and to seek sustainable solutions that utilize appropriate technology,” said Shorma Bianca Bailey.

Bailey wears many hats as she leads the Howard delegation. She is a senior Chemical Engineering major and the 2011 White House Champion of Change for Women and Girls in STEM recipient.

Bailey is joined by the following phenomenal emerging leaders: Kristina Banks, Aleah Holt and Tena Hunter. John Tharakan, Ph. D., is their faculty advisor.

Howard University has a growing international footprint and the work being done by the students in EWB-HU and the Freshman Leadership Academy ensure that Howard University produces a plethora of global leaders.

“These young ladies are trailblazers and ambassadors,” said Barbara Griffin, Ph. D., Vice President of Student Affairs.

The Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs sponsored the travel to Sudan.

The team will present their paper titled Investigating the Water Quality and Quantity Issues in Choimim, Kenya. The EWB-HU members have worked on this sustainable water solution for the last three years.

“We are engineers and our core mission is to solve problems,” said Bailey.

Choimim is a rural community occupied with tea and cattle farmers and a lengthy six-hour drive from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The people there do not have adequate water and the shortage is dire in the dry season.

The opportunity came after the 2011 Appropriate Technology Conference held on Howard’s Campus. At the conference, EWB presented their project about water sustainability in Kenya.

The group also shared their research on the process and logistics behind implementing engineering solutions abroad.

Howard was not the only institution of higher learning in attendance. Other participants included Morehouse College and the University of Maryland. Also in attendance were visiting professors from the University of Khartoum (Sudan).

The keynote speaker, Gada Kadoda, Ph.D., spoke of her involvement and leadership with the Barefoot College, which specializes in the development of women. The program trains women to become engineers for their communities, and empowers them financially, socially, and politically.

Barefoot College aims to equip women with the skills to create sustainable villages through efforts such as building solar panel grids.

Because Dr. Kadoda saw sustainability as a common thread between both Engineers Without Borders and the Barefoot College, she invited the members of the Howard University chapter to be student presenters at the Workshop on Knowledge Management Capacity in Africa: Harnessing tools for development and innovation in Sudan.

This workshop is co-organized by the Garden City College for Science and Technology and the University of Khartoum in collaboration with the International Network on Appropriate Technology (INAT).

The young engineers hope to provide a foundation on how to implement international projects on sustainability, and create a partnership between the engineering program at the University of Khartoum and Howard University.

“EWB-HU is committed to finding solutions across social, cultural and geographic boundaries,” said Bailey.