A few years ago the people of Cange, Haiti needed water. Some of them had to walk a thousand feet down the mountain and climb back up lugging 40 pound buckets of water. Today a new system pipes clean water up the mountain and into Cange. A team of Clemson engineering students working with the Haitian partners helped make this happen.
Clemson Engineers For Developing Countries, CDEC, began in the fall of 2009 when seven students in civil engineering noticed that something was missing from their curriculum. CDEC designed a system that would filter out large contaminates, kill microbes and ultraviolet radiation and chlorine, and then transport the water through the village in new pipes buried underneath recently paved roads. It would be the first chlorinated municipal water system in the country of Haiti.
I met CDEC professor in practice, David Vaughn, in 2016 as we began telling the story of Clemson engineers traveling to Cange, Haiti as they continued to work alongside the Haitian people to service the municipal water system. Here is the interesting intersection. Clemson engineers were not traveling just to build and maintain this water system, they were traveling to Cange to work alongside the Haitian people, building global relationships. An educational experience for this new global economy. An educational experience outside the walls of the traditional classroom.
Check Out Links Below:
- Clemson Engineers For Developing Countries Website
- [Film] Clemson Engineers Changing The World
- Clemson College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Sciences
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Bobby Rettew: Intersection is brought to you by Social Health Institute. Exploring new and innovative ways for hospitals and healthcare organizations to develop and enhance their social media and digital marketing strategies. Learn more at socialhealthinstitute.com.
David Vaughn: It kind of goes back down to if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it. Did it actually make a sound? And what that three minute video did was enabled people to hear what we’ve done.
Bobby Rettew: Welcome to Intersection. I’m Bobby Rettew.
David Vaughn: Okay, David Vaughn born raised in Centerville, South Carolina. Civil engineering degree from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Worked in civil engineering project management for almost all my life. Actually spent a lot of time with Flour in Greenville, South Carolina 2000. December 2009 started volunteer my time. Attended the first meeting with Upper Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina about a water project. When I attended that meeting, I met these group of students that called themselves Clemson Engineers For Developing Countries.
David Vaughn: Worked with them for pretty much about nine months. Finally went down with them to Haiti. And when we went down there, I had just come out of Afghanistan. And I was the chief engineer of the southern expansion. I looked at one of the stakeholders with a EUSE. And said, “You realize I do this for a living?” He says, “You’re now the project manager.”
Bobby Rettew: A few years ago the people of Cange, Haiti needed water. Some of them had to walk 1000 feet down the mountain and climb back up, lugging 40 pound buckets of water. Today, a new system pipes, clean water up the mountain, and into Cange. A team of Clemson engineering students working with their Haitian partners help make this happen.
Bobby Rettew: Clemson Engineers For Developing Countries, CEDC began in the fall of 2009, when seven students in civil engineering noticed that something was missing from their curriculum. CEDC designed a system that would filter out large contaminants, kill microbes in ultraviolet radiation and chlorine, and then transport the water through the village in new pipes buried underneath recently paved roads. It would be the first chlorinated municipal water system in the country of Haiti. I met CEDC professor in practice David Vaughn in 2016, as we began telling the story of Clemson engineers traveling to Cange, Haiti as they continue to work alongside the Haitian people to service the municipal water system.
Bobby Rettew: Here’s the interesting intersection, Clemson engineers were not traveling just to build and maintain this water system, they were traveling to Cange to work alongside the Haitian people building global relationships, an educational experience for this new global economy. An educational experience outside the walls of the traditional classroom.
David Vaughn: When we started it out, I think there was seven civil engineers that were in the program. These are kids who were do gooders. Now, we’re at times over 100 students in the program. It’s no longer about just about civil engineering anymore. We have 28 to 33 different disciplines that are in the program.
Bobby Rettew: Outside of engineering as well.
David Vaughn: Absolutely. So, it’s all seven colleges.
Bobby Rettew: So, it’s really across the curriculum at Clemson, you don’t have to be an engineer to be a part of this.
David Vaughn: That’s correct. What we’ve really understood is that engineering isn’t necessarily about the engineer you think of. Engineering simply means problem solver. When you go through there and look at what we’re trying to tackle in the central plateau of Haiti, it’s about solving problems.
Bobby Rettew: So, tell me if you had to describe CEDC, first of all, explain the acronym, and explain how it fits into Clemson Engineering as a college.
David Vaughn: Okay. CEDC is Clemson Engineering For Developing Countries. There’s a lot of times we’ve struggled with the name engineering just because people are scared of it. But once again, they really do take a hold of it. So we actually have marketing majors that work in there. We’ve got Econ students. But where it benefits the university is we use project based learning. So, every single team that works together actually has a project statement that they’re working against. One of the things of what it does is actually supplements the curriculum that is there. We’re actually doing a lot of assessments right now to better understand what are the outcomes that the students are actually achieving? There’s been a lot of things that we’re wrong about overtime. First of all, Jeff and I had really established that we could only have seniors and graduate students in the program because they were the only ones with enough technical acumen. Then we wrote into the bylaws of the program that it was going to become evergreen. Well, students kept graduating and leaving. So, you really were never going to get your feet up under you. Then we said, okay, bring in juniors, then it was bring in sophomores. Okay, then finally it was, bring in the freshmen straight out of high school. When we did that, that first year, those freshmen were outperforming some seniors. And then they stayed for four years. Aaron Gordon was a classic example of one of those students. By the time they got to their senior year, these students were carved out of wood. You could literally drop them anywhere on earth and they would change the world.
Bobby Rettew: So, tell me, many people, when they think about a college of engineering and a program that operates inside that. The first thing a parent or external personal will think is, there a class involved? Do I get credits? Why do I do this? Should I … What’s the makeup of the discipline?
David Vaughn: First of all, we meet every Friday afternoon. It is a classroom environment. We meet everyone collectively and essentially every three weeks you’re on stage presenting. The next hour is we’re actually spending time planning where every team breaks down and are working on their individual projects.
Bobby Rettew: Tell us a little bit about what are some of the projects that these students are working on that are pretty much outside of the classroom curriculum? Give me a gamut of the projects.
David Vaughn: The first project was the municipal water system in Cange, which just so happens to be the first chlorinated municipal water system in the entire country of Haiti. And that has been acknowledged by the UNWHO. The next project we talk about is the bio digesters. This takes sanitary sewer and we actually have that connected to the school that has 1500 students and another building. And we can process that sanitary sewer, and it has a 99.98% efficacy against E. coli and cholera. Which means it kills it all, and it produces methane. So, it’s actually a net plus system that helps prevent disease from getting into the environment. We also have, for example, economic development projects. One of those was a fish farm, aquaculture where they’re actually growing tilapia. This is the one thing we got to understand is that when we are working with communities, it’s not about giving them clean water or sanitation or whatever it may be, it is we’ve got to think about the community holistically. If they can’t start paying for their own in the future, then we’re really not installing sustainable solutions. One of the current projects we’re working on is a hydroelectric project. Where they’re actually, the students have gone down there and we have extra water that comes across to them.
Bobby Rettew: In Haiti?
David Vaughn: In Haiti.
Bobby Rettew: In Cange Haiti.
David Vaughn: We are able to take that water and run it downhill, turn a turbine, turn a generator and actually supply power. So, the students have gone down and actually measured the water coming from the dam in Haiti. They’re able to understand how much energy it will create. They have been doing electrical assessments in the compound. And when everything is said and done right now, the stakeholder that we’re working with, which is [inaudible 00:08:17] they’re paying around $250000 a year for electricity. This system will have a return on investment in less than two years. So, some of these things are no-brainers.
Bobby Rettew: Let’s talk a little bit about Clemson Engineering. Here’s one of the reasons why I got interested in this project. Number one is, as many of you do not know, I started off at Clemson as an engineering student. I came from a family of engineers. And when I got to my second … Right after the end of my sophomore year in civil engineering, I think I took Professor Bob’s class and I can’t remember if it was statics or what it was. But it kicked my butt so much that I was like, you know what, maybe I’m not an engineer.
David Vaughn: But when I think about my time as an engineering student, and then I turned out to be a math student, a math undergrad. The reason why I like the CEDC so much is that if that was installed when I was an undergrad, I wonder where I’d be today. Talk about how the student, it takes the statics and dynamics and that physics and that calculus, and all that stuff and it says, “Hey, we’ve got that. We’re going to really show you what engineers do.” Talk about the connection that turns into real world solutions after Clemson.
David Vaughn: Right. A lot of students … Well, first of all, I think everyone learns differently to start with. And going through and giving them a problem. And then what they’ve got to do is digest that problem. And then as they’re going through there, they start saying, well, what literature do we need to have to pull down? Or how do we break this problem down? Or how do we solve this problem? And then a lot of times are going back to their faculty members and learning how to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to this real world problem.
David Vaughn: In the end, if you start looking at what industry is looking for, is they’re actually wanting students who can basically think for themselves, who can solve their own problems. What this does is it brings the element of the real world into the classroom. Rather than just learning from a textbook, or from a professor from the room, what this does is truly Applied Science. They’re able to get through there and solve real world problems.
David Vaughn: But the other piece is, is that as projects are being performed, if you go there and ask an engineer, what’s the most perfect design? It’s one that was never installed. The reality is, is that you can go through there and do all the designs. But once you get to the field, you will run into a whole new set of problems. And I think the students who go through there and can see the full lifecycle of a project are much more prepared for the real world.
Bobby Rettew: Let’s start talking about the real world. How did CEDC find Cange?
David Vaughn: I believe that was Jeff Plumblee. He ended up running into a gentleman and I got invited into a meeting. I started having meetings with Dr. Harry Morris, and I think [inaudible 00:11:35] who is with the CDC. At some point in time he was invited to actually go down and visit Cange. Let me back up a little bit and talk about the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina. The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina has had a relationship with Cange, Haiti for nearly 40 years.
Bobby Rettew: Why?
David Vaughn: So, Father Lafontant, met the bishop from South Carolina and they started talking. It was really a happenstance connection.
Bobby Rettew: And he was father-
David Vaughn: Father Lafontant was the priest in Cange Haiti.
Bobby Rettew: Got you. They met and they started thinking about collaboration.
David Vaughn: That is correct.
Bobby Rettew: When we talk about Cange, people when they think of Haiti, the first thing I thought of when I thought of Haiti was the first time I went on a cruise ship, and I stopped in one side of the touristy side of Haiti. And I had a perception of a beach. Describe Haiti to people. And then once you describe Haiti and the Haitians, let’s talk about college. But let’s talk about Haitians first.
David Vaughn: My first trip into Haiti was in 1980. And when we traveled down, we drove to Miami. Miami was the dirtiest, ugliest town I’d ever seen in my life, and I couldn’t wait to get out of Miami. And then the next day we flew to Haiti. I spent two weeks in Haiti. And there was little infrastructure. You had sewer running in the streets, the water that you could not drink, people without jobs, disease, just incredible suffering as far as people goes. I was really probably a freshman in high school when I saw that. When I flew back into Miami after that trip, it was the most beautiful place I’ve seen in my life. Where we work in Haiti now is in the central plateau, and it’s far away from Port-au-Prince, but-
Bobby Rettew: It’s North East a little bit.
David Vaughn: That’s correct. But we’re also dealing with a population that probably makes around $1 a day. Most people can’t fathom making $350 a year. It’s beyond subsistence farming. It’s really, people are just barely eking by a living. So, it’s hard for people to relate. You can go down there and visit and see and it’s shocking. One thing that’s come from the students is they’ll see our video, they see the pictures, they hear the stories, but when they go see it, and they smell it, they start to understand that it’s real. It’s really and truly it’s a country that has very little infrastructure. If you think about what enables us as Americans to be who we are, it’s about investment in infrastructure. Even though we talk about our failing infrastructure, imagine this country without infrastructure, because that is what enables us to be who we are.
Bobby Rettew: We flew into … Well, you have Port-au-Prince. And the first time I went there, I remember the first couple of impressions were that there’s trash everywhere. So, there’s not a trash system.
David Vaughn: Correct.
Bobby Rettew: I remember just seeing, just boxes and just stuff all over the place. That was a little visually overwhelming.
David Vaughn: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Bobby Rettew: The second thing I noticed was the Haitian people are happy people.
David Vaughn: That’s correct.
Bobby Rettew: That’s what I love. Here, we fly into this place that in many accounts is a third world country, the limited infrastructure, but they’re happy a people.
David Vaughn: Right. You’ve heard for years that people talk about money doesn’t make you happy, but it’s hard to believe when you’re American because the point is that the more money you have, the more possessions you can have. But when you go to Haiti and everyone you meet, they’re happy to see you. They’re happy together. It’s not just because you’re there, but generally speaking, is they have a love for life, okay? I just wish you could know how that is. But really, and truly is that I think we’ve got to look at life a little bit differently. We’ve got to figure out is that what’s our driver in life? In other words, why are we trying to do what we’re trying to do?
David Vaughn: Is it, are we chasing money? Or are we trying to have impact and change the world? I think that to some degree, everyone needs to be focusing on things outside of yourself. Because when all you try to do just acquire assets, you lose sight of what life is about. I think really and truly is that Haitians are good at living life. One of the things that you also learn is that Americans are time based. We have meetings at a certain time, we set certain parameters for it. And everything is on a schedule. When I’m first going on there, and keep in mind, I’m going on there as a professional project manager to help run this job. People may not show up for the meetings on time, or especially if it rains. If it rains, the meeting is off.
David Vaughn: But, the first thing is when you sit down is they’re going to ask you about your family. They’re going to want to know and understand that you’re doing well. So, there’s a lot of care for each other. Then once you get beyond all that, then you can start talking about the business. But it really is, it’s a relationship based society. They really do care for each other. And I think that’s one thing that is very different that you see between the cultures.
Bobby Rettew: What attracted me to this project was not so much about the Haitian people, but was about the need. Obviously, down in Port-au-Prince, there’s a need, there’s an infrastructure need. There’s so many needs. America just wants to solve problems and they could just dump their infrastructure on there, they can just solve problems. But we weren’t about that, Clemson isn’t about that. There was a different type of problem that was up the mountain. So, let’s make our way up the mountain to Cange. To me the first time going to Cange, there was a mood shift from going from Port-au-Prince, all the way up to Cange. Describe Cange for us.
David Vaughn: To describe Cange, I need to go back and give you some history. The United States decided to help Haiti back in the 1950s, and they want to supply electric power to Port-au-Prince. So, there was this nice river there located near Cange, and they decided to install a hydroelectric dam. I believe this completed around 1958. If I also remember correctly, that it was another probably four years before it actually generated electricity.But when the dam was installed, the water started to rise, and the government did not tell the people that the water would rise. All these families who had these fertile lands were displaced. They didn’t have a place to grow their crops. And they settled at the top of this hill that they call Cange today. They lived there for probably another 10 to 15 years, and that’s when Father Lafontant arrived. He saw this population that had huge needs, no water, massive amounts of disease, no education. Just decimated population. And he started to help them.
David Vaughn: He started drawing in support that he could locally as much as he could. Then in 1978, he was able to get the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina involved. That continued to grow the relationship. There was a school there, there was a hospital there. And then Father Lafontant said, “We really need water.” So, they brought in a couple of engineers from Greenville, South Carolina. He was explaining to them that we need water in Cange. They’re like, well, we’ve tried to drill wells here 500 feet deep and there’s no water. He said, “Yeah, but there’s a spring at the bottom of the mountain, and I believe in a miracle.” They’re like, “Yeah, but water doesn’t go up hill.” He says, “I think God will find a way.”
David Vaughn: So, the engineers went down and surveyed it, and they actually talked with another engineer with Duke Energy. They started combining thoughts and they said, “Hey, can we use a turbine to take this water, and then take a pump and push it up the mountain?” So, between 1983 to 1985, they completed that project. There’s a book called Mountains Beyond Mountains, which is by Tracy Kidder. Mainly about Paul Farmer, but it tells the story of Cange. One of the things they talk about is actually having clean water delivered. At the time that water being delivered from the spring had zero fecal coliforms per a hundred mil. So, it was clean at the time. They saw huge health benefits because they actually had water.
David Vaughn: Over time, that relationship with the Episcopal Diocese continued to grow. They had one of the best schools in the entire country. The really only operable hospital in the country, they had several other satellite hospitals. And then we wanted to go all the way up to January 12, 2010 when the earthquake happened. Many of the hospitals in the country down or up Port-au-Prince were decimated, completely destroyed, And then you had this huge population that went to Cange looking for help. They cleared the church out, every square inch they had that they could actually put people to service them.
David Vaughn: It really became the Recovery Center for the country of Haiti. Zanmi Lasante, the Episcopal Diocese, everyone was pitching in everywhere they could. But what it really did was push the need for the water system because the water system that we were all doing design work on was close to collapsing. After running for almost 25, 30 years, the mechanical systems were really almost starting to fail. And the dam was literally being eroded underneath, the pump was [inaudible 00:22:55] but the other part was, is the water coming from that spring that used to be clean, now had 200 fecal coliforms forms per a hundred mil. So, literally, anyone who was drinking from that could get deadly ill.
David Vaughn: Go forward a couple more months to October 2010, the next disaster hit Haiti, which was cholera. It ran the country and no one could stop it. The reason they couldn’t stop it is that no one had invested in infrastructure, and everyone is living on the front line drinking water that they know that they might catch cholera from and die. We’ve literally had thousands of people, hundreds of thousands affected, and probably 10000, I have to give the exact number, who’ve died from the disease. Right now, those same people are still vulnerable.
David Vaughn: Just this last month with the rainy season started, Douane, which is an adjacent town has experienced 50 cholera cases who came into the hospital and they’re basically trying to correct. The point is these people are living on the front line of disease. A couple of years ago, Zanmi Lasante came to Clemson to meet with us, and we were working on a contract and working on a relationship.
Bobby Rettew: Who is that for everybody that doesn’t know.
David Vaughn: Zanmi Lasante, means Partners in Health in Creole. So, this is really the organization that Paul Farmer and Father Lafontant formed. It really is … It’s actually the largest NGO in the country of Haiti. Their Chief of Staff, her name is Liz Campo, came here to Clemson to the campus. And she was explaining that they had been invited to a water conference, and this was October 2017. But they had a paper that was due, an abstract in May 2017.
David Vaughn: She says, “They want to talk about microbiology. What are we going to talk about?” I’m like, “Talk about cholera.” They said, “Well, how would we talk about cholera?” I said, “Go to UNICEF and get the experiential data for how it’s spread across the country.” And I said, “What you do is look at really October 2010, look at how it spread across the country, up until today. And then I want you to do one thing.” She says, “What’s that?” I said, “I want you to go look on the map at Cange.” She’s like, what am I going to see.” I said, “When you see it, you’ll know.”
David Vaughn: About two months later, she calls me up and says, “David, there’s problem.” I said, “Well, what’s the problem?” She says, “I’ve reviewed the data and there’s a hole in the data.” I said, “What do you mean there’s a hole in the data?” She said, “I’m going through this, and basically where all the cases are on the map are red.” She says, “The entire country of Haiti is red except for Cange, and it’s a white splotch on the map.” I said, “You’re correct.” She says, “That means we’re not collecting data.” I said, “No, that means we don’t have any cholera.” She said, “Well, wait, are you telling me that investment in infrastructure prevents disease?” I’m like, “Yes.”
David Vaughn: What we’re able to do is when we went to the water conference, we were able to explain to people that if you invest in infrastructure, you can prevent disease. We’re now meeting with the UNWHO, we’re now meeting with USAID, and they’re starting to realize that if we can invest in this way, we can actually start saving lives.
David Vaughn: The first meeting we had was last year, which was June 23, 2017, when the United Nations World Health Organization came to Cange to meet with us. We toured the entire water system from top to bottom. And then we went and reviewed the body gestures. They told us openly that they had done assessments on water systems and sanitation systems across the entire country of Haiti, and this was the first chlorinated municipal water system in the entire country. And they’re now pushing to see if we can actually establish a center of excellence there to bring others in around the country to show them what the art of the possible is.
Bobby Rettew: Let’s talk about this first discussions and how we had these conversations of how do we tell the story of Cange that isn’t an educational video, but isn’t an emotional video. Let’s go back to that first meeting. What do you remember?
David Vaughn: That first meeting, it was not a normal meeting. Mainly because, as an engineer, there’s certain methodology that you use to solve problems. Sometimes, really telling a story is you’ve got to get something that has visual representation that people can see. There’s got to be a situation that’s the problem. We’ve got to find ways to tell a story of how that was solved, and then the benefits that come from that, that really help you tell that in a very short way of doing that, a short segment.
David Vaughn: So, really and truly is that this is where, I don’t know that we had the skill sets internally to do that. And that’s really where I think that having you in the room leading us and guiding us to pull the elements of what will be in the story to create the storyline. But really and truly is that I don’t even think that we had the complete storyline nailed down until we went down there.
Bobby Rettew: Right.
David Vaughn: We knew that we wanted to be around water. There was a problem that would come up that had to be addressed, and there would be this moment where there was an accomplishment. And then you can see the benefits that came from that. But what was really nice is that, I think through a lot of the filmmaking there were some snippets of stock film that we have from the past. For example, the turbine going down the mountain. Those things are very powerful for us. Others may not know what that is, but what that shows is the incredible amount of teamwork of how collaborative it is.
David Vaughn: This is one thing, I really do think that I think beyond just to clean water, I think what I took from the story in the end, it wasn’t about engineering. It was about Clemson working hand in hand with locals.
Bobby Rettew: When we started planning this project, we sat down and we looked at like, we want to tell a story about how a Clemson student, an engineering student can come and get an engineering degree and change the world. Now, that’s a bit cliché, right? Everyone wants to do that. Everybody wants to showcase that. So, we started thinking about it. We had this meeting. And what you did was lay out a map. This is where the village is, and this is where the water comes from. And it is roughly about 12 to 15 stories below.
David Vaughn: In my mind, you can’t visualize that. I kept on hearing the story of the steps. Let’s talk about the steps. The village is at the very top of the mountain, and the water is at the very bottom of the mountain. These aren’t just average steps to get. The steps weren’t there before. Talk about where the water was, and where it was taken and what happened with that.
David Vaughn: Before the water system, people literally had to climb down the mountains with buckets and bring the water up. There were no steps. You and I would not make it.
Bobby Rettew: I barely made it the first time I went up the steps.
David Vaughn: The steps literally had just been completed in the last five years. They were coming up the mountain and there’s 535 of them. They’re not built per code, which means that they have different sizes and everything in it really plays havoc on you.
Bobby Rettew: Some of them are at least a foot tall.
David Vaughn: Right. The total Rise of the water from the bottom is 1100 feet, okay? So, the pressure for the water in your house is probably around 60 psi. At the very bottom when we’re pumping the water up, we’re around 475 psi to basically get the water to rise that entire height. It’s a very powerful system to do that. It takes about 24 horsepower to push that water up the mountain.
Bobby Rettew: So, there is a spring that comes through the mountain where the water comes through a dam, a dam that you all created so that the water is pushed down and powers a turbine, which turns around and pushes water up the mountain through two sets of pipes that sit in what, five or six cisterns-
David Vaughn: Four cisterns.
Bobby Rettew: Four cisterns at the very top. Before they go to the cisterns, they are chlorinated.
David Vaughn: They are filtered and chlorinated.
Bobby Rettew: Filtered and chlorinated, and they sit in the cisterns. Because they’re at the top of the mountain, they then create pressure to push down to fountains throughout the village, correct?
David Vaughn: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Bobby Rettew: So, now these people don’t have to walk down the mountain, they can walk out of their house to a fountain.
David Vaughn: Right.
Bobby Rettew: Now, we have this area that has clean water, is that correct?
David Vaughn: Yes.
Bobby Rettew: How long did it take to build that system to where it is today? Is it a 40 year project? 30 years? Did it happen in stages?
David Vaughn: Well, the first part of the project was done, like I said, between 1983 to ’85. When it was done at that time, there was engineers from Upper South Carolina and they actually had hired a Haitian contractor to do the work. But it’s much smaller scale. The scale that we went to today is we have a very robust dam. When you talk about the spring, when most people think about springs, springs aren’t that powerful-
Bobby Rettew: This is a very big spring.
David Vaughn: This spring, we’ve measured it, and dependent on whether wet or dry season has around 24000 gallons per minute. Okay, so from how big is that? Most people’s normal swimming pool that you’ll see up behind their house is around 24000 gallons. Imagine filling that up in one minute, okay? That happens every minute, 24 hours a day. So, there’s a lot of water.
David Vaughn: When we capture that water in the dam, it flows down to that turbine, and there’s 3500 gallons a minute that goes to the turbine, which turns a pump. Now, what this is, is a mechanical advantage. So, for every 70 gallons that goes to that turbine, it lifts one gallon up the mountain. So, really and truly is that actually, the entire system runs off gravity. There’s no electricity in the system at all. Once it goes up to the filter building, it goes through there, we have huge cartridge filters that water flows through, those things are washed a couple times a day. Then we have a chlorinator. We literally use chlorine tablets like you would see in a swimming pool. And that’s what we chlorinate the water system with.
David Vaughn: Then it goes into the cisterns. What we found is that the cisterns are actually part of the treatment system. That literally, water goes in there and sits and is very still and almost acts as a clarifier. So, any sediment literally falls to the bottom. When it comes out the fountain it’s crystal clear. What we found is that we’re able to actually come up with consistency. Now, keep in mind, we’ve got to clean behind the dam at times, we’ve got to go and, we’re constantly working in the filter building. Once a month we’re cleaning out the cisterns.
David Vaughn: There’s lots of maintenance involved to keep the system running. But the point is, is that it’s actually a very low cost system that others are trying to figure out how to replicate.
Bobby Rettew: Now, a quick break to give a quick shout out to the network that supports Intersection, Touchpoint Media. A collection of podcasts dedicated to discussions on all things health care. Including digital marketing and online patient engagement strategies, CIO and technology strategies. The challenges of the online position, the power of the e-patient, and most importantly, the power of storytelling. To learn more, go to touchpoint.health. That is touchpoint.health. Let’s joining the show.
Bobby Rettew: You have worked with the people side by side in Cange to harness the power of the water, to provide healthy clean water. And now, you’re looking at harnessing the power of water to provide electricity to the village. Let’s talk about how that evolution of, we went from water, to now a massive power bill that was being created for this village and the hospital and you started doing some math problems and started recognizing this. Let’s talk about that.
David Vaughn: Well, first thing is, is and the Haitians will tell you that water is life. I think that’s evident in the water system. The thing is that we’re going to there, and we’re always realizing, we’re using, we’ve got three turbines connected the system, we only run about two at a time. But we had extra water that kept coming over the dam. We were like, so, we have extra power here we can utilize in some way, shape, or form.
David Vaughn: Then the question was, do we have enough to make electricity and make it worthwhile? We started to having conversations with Zanmi Lasante to understand how much power they’re using. They didn’t have a real good idea. They even started asking about how much were the bills that they were paying. We finally figured out that they were paying a quarter million dollars a year. On top of that, they have a generator. That generator runs probably 40% of the time sometimes. So, the bill’s probably much higher. It may be closer to $300000 a year that’s costing them to actually supply electricity.
David Vaughn: We went down and we were trying to figure out, okay, now how do you measure the water? We know it’s going back and reading the original reports of the guys who do back in the ’80s, they were literally taking oranges and dropping to the stream to try to measure how much water there was.
Bobby Rettew: How do you measure flow of water and what the opportunity is? Talk about that from an engineering standpoint, it’s very simple.
David Vaughn: Well, it sounds simple, but it’s not as simple. First of all, you’ve got to understand is that what is the cross sectional area of the water that is flowing?
Bobby Rettew: So, the diameter of the tube that the water’s coming through.
David Vaughn: Right. Or the stream, because they’d be flat. Because originally, the water flowing [inaudible 00:38:09] but we’re trying to measure it there. But the problem is, there’s so much variability, and we weren’t going to be able to really get really good numbers. But we do have a waste pipe where we can actually drain behind the dam. So, if we can get all the water run through there, we can actually put an orifice plate in.
Bobby Rettew: Which is, it looks like a donut.
David Vaughn: Yes, a donut.
Bobby Rettew: You put it in, and why are you doing that?
David Vaughn: Once we understand if we can get that donut filled with water and create a jet, a water jet, and we can understand how much water is standing behind the dam, and we can measure how many feet through difference there is, we can understand how much pressure there is behind it. From there, we can actually calculate how many gallons per minute.
Bobby Rettew: Then what does that gallons per minute provide you from a mathematical situation to look at the turbines pumping the water, but also to create electricity, possibly?
David Vaughn: From there, what we were able to measure is we had just over 9000 gallons per minute. Then we had survey instruments where we’re going to actually measure how much fall we have. In other words, we have probably close to 60 feet, that that water will fall, and we can actually harness the power from that 9000 gallons per minute at 60 feet of fall.
David Vaughn: From there, we calculate that we should be able to generate … We’re not using the entire 9000, but we’re talking about 6000 gallons per minute. We will be able to generate right at 35 kilowatts of power that could be supplied to Cange.
Bobby Rettew: Put kilowatts of power in terms of the average person. What will that do for them?
David Vaughn: In Haiti or [inaudible 00:39:49]
Bobby Rettew: Well, for those people, what would it give them?
David Vaughn: First of all, you’ve got the operations of the hospital which is reliant on power. If they’re doing X rays or running the computer systems or whatever it may be, they need electricity to do that. They’ve also got kitchens. In Cange, they have businesses that they’re running. So, they have refrigeration, and lots of other-
Bobby Rettew: They have the school.
David Vaughn: The school. But the most interesting thing about electricity are these things called light bulbs. Here in the United States, we have a hard time getting children to study. And in Haiti, there are lights throughout the compound. If you walk through the compound at night, you’ll see children sitting under the street light studying because they’re trying to make it in life. They realize that studying will help them get there.
David Vaughn: Light bulbs changed their world because these kids are having to go out there and do chores, they’re going to school and they’re trying to study. But right now, they can only study during the day. The actual concept of having a light bulb changes their world. So, that’s one thing is, is that I think is education is one of the biggest benefits for the children. And it’s because of the light bulb.
Bobby Rettew: I want to start connecting some dots here. One of the moments that was very powerful for me that turned on the light bulb, so to speak for me, as we started figuring out this narrative was the moment when we were putting the orifice plate in. You and I both know this moment, and I’ve taken pictures of it, I’ve got tons, I could talk about it for hours. Is, two Clemson students, their job was to get down into where the water was and install this orifice plate and then drill, using drills, drill in screws to hold it in place, so when they turn the water back on, they could measure so they can figure out all these things we’ve been talking about.
David Vaughn: They get down there and they start putting it in. And all of a sudden the orifice plate just flies out. They’re trying to put it in, and these two students are working Hard, they’re taking their tops off, just because they’re soaking wet. And they’re pushing it in, and the Haitian people are looking at it and they’re like, they start jumping in.
David Vaughn: I had this great picture of this community of people working together to solve this problem. The Haitian people, and the Clemson students didn’t see them as one group was better than the other, they saw themselves as a collaborative unit. As a team of family members working together to solve a problem. So, this great picture that I was lucky enough to capture is, here are the Haitian friends and the Clemson friends holding this orifice plate in, while someone is measuring because at that moment in time, it was the aha moment that we can not only provide water, but we can provide electricity to this whole place in that one moment.
David Vaughn: When we think about that one moment, that’s a tough story to tell. It really is a tough story to tell in three minutes, or three and a half. So let me ask you this, why was it so important for us to come tell the story for Clemson?
David Vaughn: First of all, one is, the story you told really delivered a message, and it was an emotional message. It was true in so many sense of the word. When people ask me, what is Clemson Engineers For Developing Countries? Where do I start? Do I talk about the classroom environment? Do I talk about the individual students? Do I talk about the impacts or the outcomes of the students? There’s so much that literally I can go on for hours and hours. We have publication after publication, and acknowledgments and awards and all these things we can talk about.
David Vaughn: The point is, is that having the ability to condense that down to visually show who, what, when, where, and how impacts emotion in three minutes is a challenge. That is a service that I think adds value beyond the actual work that we’re doing. Because the point is, is that it goes back down to, if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, did it actually make a sound? What that three minute video did was enabled people to hear what we’ve done. So, really and truly is that you brought the story to where it was accessible to everyone.
Bobby Rettew: Outside of just beating your chest a little bit, why is it so important to contextualize that story in a way that the broader audience can see it? The people that love Clemson, the alumni, the potential students, the higher ups, why was it important to tell that story in a way that wasn’t what you’ve done previously, but in a new way?
David Vaughn: First of all, I think it’s one, is to grab their attention. One, is to show what Clemson has done, what Clemson is doing, but also to make you look a little deeper, and say, what else is Clemson doing? Or to say, I want to know more about this program. But I think more than anything, is that there are a lot of different audiences who will look at that video and they’ll walk away with something different. If you take a student who is in high school and sees that video, and they see a student going down to Haiti and working, starting the classroom and going down there, they’re going to say, “Wow, I can do that.” Okay?
David Vaughn: Or, you start looking at and you start talking about the faculty at the University, they can sit there and say, “Wow, we’re doing work in these areas. And oh man, I need to be able to teach students who can do those types of things.” But then, I met with industry folks who see that video, and they’re like, “Wow, you’re preparing my future employees.” Then you look at the alum who come from Clemson, and they see that video and they get pride and they’re like, “We are changing the world.”
David Vaughn: The point is that no matter who’s looking at that video, they can walk away with something a little bit different because they’re looking at it through their lens.
Bobby Rettew: How do you think this has impacted the students? When they go to these places and they walk away, and they go into industry, how’s it different than if they would just had a traditional classroom? What do you mean?
David Vaughn: This thing called fear which we’re still trying to quantify, most students who come up through the university and this isn’t the fault of the University at all, they don’t think they can change the world. They’re there to get an education and everything else. Really and truly is that through this program, for some reason, somehow we can show them that they can do these things, these things are possible. Now, keep in mind there are many times when we’ve sat down with students crying, bawling because the projects are too hard. And we’ll go through there and write up, and it may be a two page project description for hydroelectric is a good example of that. Where we’ve actually had the property manager breakdown with Chris [inaudible 00:47:55] and I, he’s an industry advisor from Greenville.
David Vaughn: They were just explaining, this is too hard. We can’t do this. And we’re like, “Yes, you can.” We walk them through how to solve that problem. When they get done with it, they walk away with a sense of pride. When the students go down, and they visit Cange and they see it firsthand, a lot of these pieces that were abstract before become real. Then the select few who are chosen to become interns, they go down there and live. They go through phases when they’re down there. And they’re down there for seven months. Some of them stay for 12 months, okay?
David Vaughn: They don’t know the language, they don’t know the culture, they don’t know who to talk to buy materials. They’re going there at a base level. They go through there and they learn the language. They learn how to work with people, they learn how to manage a project, they learn how to run a schedule, they run how to manage money. They know how to oversee engineering in the field. They know how to work with people. They understand quality control, they understand all of these things. When they get done, every one of those students, I could drop anywhere on earth, and I would not worry about them.
David Vaughn: The point is, it prepares them for anything in life after that. Because if you can do a project in Haiti in the central plateau of Haiti, you can do work anywhere on earth.
Bobby Rettew: Let’s talk about that. My final narrative that we exposed was the steps you take here, you can change the world.
David Vaughn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bobby Rettew: We showcase the steps. We showcased Aaron running up and down the steps. We showcased him mirroring those metaphoric steps inside Haiti to the steps he was making here in America. So, there’s this metaphor of steps and taking the next step and walking up the steps. Because for people to understand the gravity of what happens there, they have to understand and feel the true gravity of the steps.
Bobby Rettew: I remember walking this 534 steps the first time and I about died. You told me, you were like, “Bobby, don’t run up the steps. Do it like the Haitian people.” I’m like, “Whatever, I’m just going to run up the steps.” I get a quarter way up, and I’m about dead. You have to talk me all the way up. Then the second time I go back, I do what the Haitian people do. I take my time. I slowly walk up. I watch them walk the steps and have community, and have conversation.
Bobby Rettew: So, the steps, we spent a lot of time thinking through that narrative and showing that inside these videos of showing how people stopped and talked. And the collaboration and how people work together. We use the steps as a metaphor to break down this idea of white privilege and white savior. How intentional were conversations behind that?
David Vaughn: I think very intentional. There’s been a lot of books that have been written, and there’s a lot of propaganda out about those subjects. The reality is, is that when you go down there, and you see how we work with the locals. We may advise and everything else, but they’re the ones who are doing the work. We win when they don’t need us anymore, okay?
David Vaughn: We’re literally trying to find ways to transfer that knowledge, and finding those right people who basically can carry these things forward. But what’s so interesting about all of this, is that this concept of a win-win strategy. The student that goes down there to work wins. Because they’re thrown into a situation that they’d never dealt with before. But when they come out, they’re 10 times stronger than they were before.
David Vaughn: The locals who were working hand in hand on those projects, they gain benefit for by getting clean water, or they might be on the water team. They might be in some level of pay. But the community in general wins. We also have the donors like the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina who are sending money down. If you remember, after the earthquake, all that money was consumed by administration, or the corruption or whatever else. Because of the situation, they had 100% accountability for their funds. They knew exactly where the money was, and it all went into the project, okay?
David Vaughn: Clemson wins because now we have a program that’s better preparing students for the future, and they’re able to tell that story. And industry wins. So, the point is, is that in life, years ago, I always thought you had to have a winner and a loser. In project management, you would go out bit out of job and either the client got the better deal, or the contractor got the better deal, someone, it was always a winner and a loser, okay?
David Vaughn: In this situation wins. It makes it a no brainer going forward. The point is, is that I think there’s something special here. There’s a store that needs to be told. Because what this does is this not only changes our educational system of how we educate, but it improves our students of the future. It improves what industry can expect, okay? But it also can actually solve real world problems that right now, a lot of the folks that are out there working with the UNWHO are not very technical.
David Vaughn: We’ve got students who have these capabilities, who can plug in and solve these problems. So, I really think what it is, is what we’re doing is we’re basically cross walking the needs. And if we can do that effectively, we will change the world.
Bobby Rettew: Ladies and gentlemen, David Vaughn. Thank you for your time.
David Vaughn: Thank you.
Bobby Rettew: Thank you for joining us. We hope you enjoyed the conversation and exploration. Most importantly, the many intersections inside the world of storytelling. Intersection is powered by Touchpoint Media and Network. Podcast dedicated to discussion on all things healthcare. Go to touchpoint.health for many other podcasts exploring digital marketing and online patient engagement strategies. CIO, new technology strategies, the challenge of the online physician. A power of the e-patient, and most importantly, the power of storytelling. To learn more, go to http://touchpoint.health. That is, touchpoint.health. Have a good day.