When Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico in September, the worst natural disaster in the island’s history left hundreds of thousands of its residents without power and clean water, basic necessities many Americans take for granted.
From March 9 - 12, a team of Manhattan College chemical engineering students, led by professor Gennaro Maffia, Ph.D., began a Water and Solar Power Project (WASP) in Puerto Rico to benefit Colegio De La Salle, a Lasallian grade school in the city of Añasco that continues to suffer from ongoing issues of intermittent water and power service.
The group traveling to Puerto Rico included Giuseppe Costanza ’19 and Samantha Rosado ’19, along with Andrew Nodolski, a chemical engineering professor at Widener University, and Sebastian Torres, a chemical engineering student at University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. Also playing an instrumental role in the experience was Christie Gonzalez-Toro, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology at the College, who coordinated various logistics of the visit and who helped arrange for the team to stay at the nearby Hotel Colonial, which her parents own and and operate in Añasco.
Together, they devised a plan for clean water that included the installation of an elevated tank with an attached filter using Sawyer Products. Maffia and his students also took measurements for installing solar power, and scheduled a follow-up meeting in Añasco at the end of May.
Until then, the Manhattan engineers will begin ordering the necessary supplies, and sourcing the costs of WASP with #DoItForPuertoRico, a student organization aimed at fundraising for the island, and other sources away from Riverdale.