Dhwani Bhatt (COE ’27) is a second year Chemical Engineering student who is overseeing the creation of a water distribution system in Nakyenyi, Uganda through the Engineers Without Borders club. Dhwani grew up in Uganda, so this project is allowing her to advance in her career through giving back to her home.
“I joined Engineers Without Borders club in Fall 2022 as a member of the Uganda program. Our project focuses on the designing and implementation of a water distribution system in Nakyenyi, Uganda, to provide over 1000 rural residents with access to clean water. In August 2023, I was selected to be the PMEL (planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning) lead for the travel team where I traveled with a team of 5 to Nakyenyi, Uganda to complete phase 2 of the implementation phase of our project. This trip consisted of the implementation of a solar powered pump in a previously dug borehole and the addition of a large 10,000 Liter water tank for community members to utilize for daily, clean, drinking water. I participated in data collection for land surveying using Theodolite land surveying equipment, water quality chemical testing, and house, business, and school surveys with community members.
During this 10 day trip, we worked over 10 hours per day out in the field analyzing data and overlooking construction work. Traveling with the Engineers Without Borders group to Uganda taught me so many skills as an engineer, such as communication, technical planning, design and overlooking, and team management. I have proceeded to now become the new program director for the Uganda program, and my responsibilities for this include leading a group of about 25 students through the planning, designing and implementation of the next few phases of the project as well as directly collaborating with the in country contractors, community board members, and so on. I am extremely excited to take on this new leadership role and continue working on developing the water distribution system to provide rural residents with clean drinking water and contribute to solving such a major crisis through engineering!”
What other activities are you involved in on campus?
- ChemE car: Working on experimenting and building a hydrogen powered fuel cell car
- Research: Currently working with Professor Annalisa Onnis Hayden on a research project to develop a biogas system in Uganda. This research aims to determine the biochemical methane potential of a specific organic waste substrate using a respirometer sensor method to determine its theoretical methane yield and assess its potential as feedstock for a biodigester. The study will be conducted within the context of a rural Ugandan school by calculating the theoretical methane yield of the school’s organic waste to aid in the technical designing of a biodigester system for the school. Results will contribute to the implementation of a desperately needed clean energy biogas system in a rural school to replace current unsustainable sources of firewood and diesel generators
- Sigma Xi Research Immerse Program: Working with a mentor on a 6 month long project to draft a literature review on a topic of choice for presentation at the annual Sigma Xi Research Showcase! I have decided to do my literature review on seawater electrolysis and optimizing the electrolyzer technology to produce hydrogen from fresh seawater without alkalizing or purifying it.
What is your favorite Honors memory?
LLC events! I went to a Red Sox game with my LLC, and this was extremely fun and a great Boston cultural experience!
What events or activities would you recommend to new Honors students?
I would recommend being very involved with different Honors seminar classes, as they really encourage an interdisciplinary understanding of different topics. Take advantage of all the first year honors activities in the housing communities as this is where you will meet a lot of like minded, great individuals!