Student groups take summer service trips

The Dartmouth

September 11, 2012

By Abbie Kouzmanoff

Despite bus breakdowns and challenges with government bureaucracy, the Big Green Bus and Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering (DHE) promoted both sustainability and philanthropic engineering projects through entirely student-led trips this summer.

The 10 students on the Big Green Bus crew were on the road for 12 weeks and arrived back on campus Sept. 5. The crew traveled to different businesses, schools and environmental organizations to generate dialogue and to build connections between different community groups working toward similar goals, Big Green Bus crew member Anna Morenz ’13 said.

The Big Green Bus is a completely student-run nonprofit organization, and crew members worked throughout the year to plan the bus’s route, schedule, goals and design. The particular bus used this year, formerly operated by Greyhound, completed its second tour this summer and was built to resemble a model sustainable home...

...The DHE group of seven students, who traveled to Rwanda to help bring electricity to small villages currently off the electrical grid, also encountered roadblocks during their summer trip, according to DHE member Kevin Francfort ’15.

The project offers a clean energy solution to rural villages in the form of battery charging stations powered by hydropower, Francfort said. Two sites are already operating in Rwanda, and this year’s trip aimed to add a third and larger station.

Students ran into bureaucratic issues, which slowed the progress of the rural electrification process, Francfort said. The project was expected to be completed by the end of the summer but should now be running by October...

...DHE sent a second student-led summer trip of four students to Tanzania to work on a loose biomass stove project, Fraser said. Students worked to create stoves that use loose biomaterial such as sawdust or coffee bean husks as fuel.

“They are also working on briquetting, which involves using dried waste material such as sawdust and dried banana or corn leaves to make compressed cakes that can be burned instead of wood or charcoal,” Fraser said. “They are working with local partners to explore proliferation of these technologies.”

The Tanzanian group received financial support from the Thayer School and from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters through a grant overseen by the Dickey Center.

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