Written by Svetlana Dotsenko
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Eric Dietrich, and environmental engineering major at Montana State University has a passion for improving water quality and resource management in underdeveloped communities. Through working with the national organization Engineers Without Borders, Dietrich, along with a team of engineers and product developers has worked to bring a water and sanitation structure to roughly 60 primary schools in rural Kenya.
The biggest problem has not been the engineering, but adequately managing the community members to implement a solution that is not only helpful, but sustainable. Once the project is complete, the community must develop a system to maintain the well, perhaps by charging a nominal fee for selling water, which can help repair the pump, should it fall into disrepair. An interesting correlation to his work has been researching the dynamics of community groups through the sociology department at Montana State, a research study that was funded by a grant from the college itself.