Engineering Students Find Solutions for Community Development



Ifrane, October 12, 2012 – Students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) presented their final projects on the community service work they fulfilled during their academic stay at Al Akhawayn University.

 Projects were presented to Al Akhawayn community on October 10, 2012. 

Three teams composed of WPI students performed their community service requirements in the region of Ifrane under the supervision of Professor Bland Addison from WPI, with the contribution of Al Akhawayn University faculty and students. 

For several years, Al Akhawayn and WPI have collaborated in the promotion of community service among the two institutions’ students, valuing each other’s strengths, and encouraging cross-cultural dialogue. WPI students, all of whom major in engineering, were exposed to the humanitarianism  throughout the course of their research journey in Morocco. Both WPI and Al Akhawayn students worked together and exchanged experiences that have enriched the cultural dialogue between the two groups, and between the students and  the local communities they worked for.  

“The community service projects carried out each year by Al Akhawayn students have helped hundreds of Moroccans facing poverty, illiteracy, lack of education, job opportunities or even homes, as well as dozens of other social problems,” said Addison. “Such opportunities to come face-to-face with the misfortunes and suffering of fellow citizens will leave a lasting humanitarian impulse in the souls of all graduates of Al Akhawayn University.”

Projects of the three teams of WPI students revolved around Water Management and Conservation in Rural Morocco, Financial Outreach for the Rita Zniber Orphanage, and the Preservation and Progress in Modernizing Zillij Production.

Water Management and Conservation in Rural Morocco (Ain Chegag and El Hajeb area):  Students carried out a follow-up study on two model farms where Al Akhawayn University had helped establish drip irrigation systems as a water conservation model for other neighboring farms. The study revealed that while drip irrigation is an effective way to practice water demand management, there are still economic and bureaucratic constraints that discourage farmers from adopting the system. The team of students proposed a variety of steps to ease the application process of farmers who want to adopt drip-irrigation and to enhance communication between these and water agencies.

- Financial Outreach for the Rita Zniber Orphanage (Meknes):  Students worked with the orphanage to develop a financial outreach strategy and marketing materials to solicit donations. The team created a presentation, pamphlets, a video interview with an orphan now pursuing a university degree, and a model newsletter that the Rita Zniber Orphanage can use to gain greater visibility for its actions and to reach out to those concerned about the welfare of orphans.

- Preservation and Progress in Modernizing Zillij Production (Fez):  Working with arabesque, Moresque design and decoration, students investigated technological innovations that would reduce air pollution created by the traditional methods of firing zillij (ceramic tile), while preserving the high quality of this important Moroccan cultural heritage. In their research findings, team of students underlined that governmental proposals to fire zillij using gas ovens damaged the color of tiles and frequently made them brittle.  They proposed a less expensive  "scrubber" system where smoke would be purified from traditional wood-fired kilns. The system would be comparably effective in removing gases and particulate matter, and would preserve the high quality of traditional craftsmen production.