Asee peer logo

Service Learning At Cincinnati: Researching Water Treatment For Emerging Economies

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Sustainable Engineering

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1120.1 - 11.1120.6



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Sarah Pumphrey University of Cincinnati

visit author page

Graduate Research Assistant and MS candidate, University of Cincinnati. Ms. Pumphrey worked with Dr. Oerther as an undergraduate work study student and is continuing her MS degree.

visit author page


Anna Hoessle University of Cincinnati

visit author page

Research Assistant and MS candidate, University of Cincinnati. Ms Hoessle worked with Dr. Oerther as an undergraduate work study student and is continuing her MS degree.

visit author page


Daniel Oerther University of Cincinnati

visit author page

Associate Professor of Environmental Biotechnology, University of Cincinnati. Dr. Oerther teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in biology and molecular biology as applied to natural and engineered environments. His research focuses upon microorganisms in wastewater treatment plants, drinking water treatment plants, bioremediation field sites, and natural surface watershed.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Service Learning at Cincinnati: Researching Water Treatment for Emerging Economies Abstract

Of the nearly six billion human inhabitants of planet earth, nearly two thirds lack access to sufficient quantities of potable water and access to basic sanitation. These appalling conditions result in the deaths of millions of children each year from preventable waterborne diarrheal disease. At the University of Cincinnati, two female graduate students have undertaken MS degrees with the specific objective of performing service learning where the research focus of their respective degrees is validating and deploying appropriate technology for water quality treatment in developing countries. This presentation will highlight the results of these research projects as well as the difficulties associated with implementing a service-learning approach to MS degrees within a traditional research-intensive graduate program.


Sustainability, defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”1, has emerged as a critical component of research and education within the field of Environmental Engineering. As reflected in presentations and lengthy discussions at the semi-annual gathering of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP, 2005), a major challenge for incorporating sustainability into a graduate research program is the need to identify appropriate projects and interested students producing the quantity and quality of research results comparable to other traditional areas of Environmental Engineering. Often, research in sustainability must be boot-strapped from piecemeal funding opportunities, and it must leverage a diverse collection of interested parties including Non Government Organizations (NGOs), student activists, and willing segments of society. At the University of Cincinnati, we have adopted a service learning approach wherein targeted research questions are integrated with an opportunity to practice the tenants of sustainability in the context of an engineering design and build project.

Targeted Research Questions

The microbiological quality of water is a major factor in the spread of waterborne infectious disease. Fecal-oral exposure due to contamination of drinking water supplies is a major public health concern for emerging economies. Two sustainable approaches to address this concern include: (1) pollution prevention where education can be a primary means of improving microbiological water quality; and (2) cost efficient, point of use (POU) drinking water treatment and storage. A number of competing technologies have been developed as POUs for drinking water treatment in emerging economies. These technologies range from less sustainable solutions such as disinfection and/or coagulation using chemical addition versus more sustainable solutions such as slow sand filtration, filtration with porous pots, or filtration with cloth materials.

Pumphrey, S., & Hoessle, A., & Oerther, D. (2006, June), Service Learning At Cincinnati: Researching Water Treatment For Emerging Economies Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--58

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015