CGIU Commitment to Action: Pneo-band: Earlier Detection of Pneumonia

  1. Please write a 2-3 sentence description (in the third person) which summarizes your CGI U Commitment to Action.

This team of three undergraduate students has committed to design and develop a wearable medical technology, called the pneo-band, which will act as a precursor detector to pneumonia.  The pneo-band will benefit communities that do not have access to expensive medical attention, and will ultimately benefit families, avoiding preventable deaths of children that are common in developing countries.

  1. CGI U students work to address specific global challenges. What is the problem or issue you are working to address? (If you reference statistics or facts please cite your source(s).)

 Pneumonia is a leading killer of children under five years old and is especially prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. (Miller, Amouzou, Tafesse, et al. 2014) Currently, caretakers who live in resource-limited settings lack proper technology needed to care for their child, leading to preventable deaths. If caretakers have proper technology to monitor the most common symptoms of pneumonia – abnormal breathing and increased temperature – they would be able to evaluate the necessity for them to take expensive journeys to faraway medical clinics so their child can receive proper care. Our team is committed to create a simple wearable band to monitor the respiratory rate and temperature of a child as a precursory detector. The pneo-band, will include a screen to reveal immediate results to a caretaker. Since pneumonia has a significant effect on younger children, our target population is children between 1-5 years old.

  1. What activities will YOU/YOUR GROUP (and, if appropriate, your partners) undertake to address this issue? (In this section, we want to understand how your commitment is SPECIFIC and attainable. Define your goal, outline your planned activities, discuss how they will be carried out, and include a timeline for these activities.)

My pneo-band team is pursuing this project through the support of our Biomedical Engineering Senior Design Class at Arkansas. Our commitment is to develop a wearable device that acts as a precursory detector for pneumonia in children under five. Earlier this semester, we researched extensively about general market requirements, user needs, engineering requirements of the device. By December 2015, we will complete the design specifications, which includes materials, software components, and risk analysis.

During January and February 2016, we will work on the prototype of the device. We will join with electrical engineering students, continue to collaborate with biomedical engineering professors, and begin collaboration with physicians. We have identified skilled physicians at Mercy Hospital – a local hospital at which I volunteered – to help with the assessment of our final device. By May 2016, we plan to complete the final device and obtain final assessment of the device on student volunteers. Also, detailed instructions will be created for reproducibility of the product. Throughout Summer 2016, we will strengthen our partnership with Mercy Hospital and continue to collect data from volunteers.

Our ultimate goal is to impact communities that cannot depend on sophisticated devices or well-trained physicians. Therefore, for Summer 2016, I have already planned a trip to Ethiopia where we will reach out to our on-going partnership with the Soddo Christian Hospital. While my team has committed to create a successful device by Summer 2016, the next step would be an assessment in Soddo, Ethiopia through our partnership.

  1. How is this different from what you have done before? (In this section, we want to make sure your commitment is NEW. Each commitment must be a new project for the individual or group making the commitment. If the commitment is an expansion of an existing effort, consider focusing on a different geographical area, working with new partners, or fundraising for a cause new to your interests.)

Earlier this summer, I participated in a “solve-a-thon” event at MIT. I joined a team of 4 graduate students where we proposed the award-winning concept of a p-shirt – a shirt with the pneo-band embedded into it. At the start of September, I brought together a team of undergraduates in my Senior Design Class to tackle the challenge of pneumonia in resource-poor settings. Therefore, our device concept has been modeled from the proposal of my team this summer. We have taken the proposal and have now turned it into reality. Through this project, we are focusing primarily on the engineering aspect of the design and how it can be incorporated in local communities. Unlike current technology for pneumonia, our aim is for the pneo-band to be portable, inexpensive, and accessible to all.

  1. How will you know you are successful? (In this section, we want to know how your commitment is MEASURABLE. Identify specific results on which you want to report back. The impact of your commitment can be determined in many ways; whether you’re measuring funds raised, volunteers engaged, or progress towards goals.)

The main material of the pneo-band will be a Velcro strap wrapping comfortably around a child’s chest. A respiratory pad and temperature pad will be embedded on the Velcro and will measure a range of values. A data monitor box programmed with the LabVIEW will be encased on the band with a screen to display a gradient scale. If severe results are seen for 7 consecutive nights, the child should be taken to a physician. The child would wear this band while sleeping to reduce any environmental factors. During testing, we can induce the symptoms of pneumonia through intense exercise to raise an individual’s temperature and respiratory rate, and then compare the data with a stationary individual as the control. Success will be determined after comparing the data between these two groups of student volunteers. Only then would we be able to pursue further testing in developing countries.


Student Commitment Maker Biographies


L-R Jerusha Kumpati, Ailon Haileyesus, Grace Bagabe

Jerusha Kumpati is a senior of biomedical engineering at the university of arkansas.  She is actively involved in her church and the local chapter of BMES.  Her hobbies include reading, cooking, and getting to know internationals.  She would like to attend medical school, and loves serving people in any way she can.

Ailon Haileyesus, originally from Broomall, Pennsylvania and a first-generation Ethiopian American, will graduate in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Spanish from the University of Arkansas in 2016. As a Harvard-Amgen Scholar, she performed research on developing a multiplex colorimetric paper-based diagnostic device for use in poor-resourced settings. As an Academic Tutor, Tau Beta Pi member, and co-founder and president of Engineering World Health Chapter at her university, she desires to tackle global health challenges and empower others to do the same. Along with a few peers, she launched the Global Medical Brigades Chapter at Arkansas and became the Spanish Cultural Chair. Ailon has participated in and led service learning trips in several countries of Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Southeast Asia. She hopes to form more collaborations and partnerships with like-minded people of all backgrounds in order to contribute ideas and become a global agent of change.

Grace Bagabe is an international student studying Biomedical engineering at the University of Arkansas. She describes herself as an all rounded and versatile person. Grace is involved and also taken up leadership positions in various organisation on campus. They have ranged from, cultural such as the African Student Organization to academic, such as Engineering World Health.

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Student Commitment: Angelica Makuch Potable Water for Nampula, Mozambique

  1. Please write a 2-3 sentence description (in the third person) which summarizes your CGI U Commitment to Action.

Our main goal is to bring clean drinking water to the residents of Nampula, Mozambique. We plan to accomplish this by setting up a well, hand pump, and filtration system. This will be accomplish by the design power of the engineers on this team as well as assistance from the University.

  1. CGI U students work to address specific global challenges. What is the problem or issue you are working to address? (If you reference statistics or facts please cite your source(s).)

 The goal of this project is to address the issue of multiple people not having access to clean and potable water. Clean water should be a fundamental right, yet is difficult to find in many areas of the world. The target area is a small village in Mozambique, of around 300 people. This water system will serve all ages from different families, and help alleviate some of the symptoms of having contaminated water.

  1. What activities will YOU/YOUR GROUP (and, if appropriate, your partners) undertake to address this issue? (In this section, we want to understand how your commitment is SPECIFIC and attainable. Define your goal, outline your planned activities, discuss how they will be carried out, and include a timeline for these activities.)

The part of the process will be to design a working pump system that can be implemented in Nampula. It will be able to work both electrically and manually, as electricity is not always reliable in this area. Our team has already started the design process and should be done with a design by mid January. The next step is to contact someone in the area that will be able to maintain the system. Our project already has a store manager in Nampula that would be willing to assist in the process as well as the upkeep of the well and pump. This project will also need an implementation team. Fortunately, our University hosts a study abroad to the area, and several engineers are going. These engineering students are willing to work on the system during their time there. They will ensure a smooth implementation process. Overall, the final thing for the project completion is the design of the pump and well system, which will be completed by mid January. The project itself should be implemented in May 2016.

  1. How is this different from what you have done before? (In this section, we want to make sure your commitment is NEW. Each commitment must be a new project for the individual or group making the commitment. If the commitment is an expansion of an existing effort, consider focusing on a different geographical area, working with new partners, or fundraising for a cause new to your interests.)

In the past, some of the partners in this group have worked on a water project in Belize. An engineer was hired, pumps were designed, and a well tower was created. This project is entirely new because we are designing the system ourselves. This gives us more of a hands on experience so we value the system substantially more. The differences between Mozambique and Belize are also incredibly new, from topography to climate to water tables. Overall, this is a new experience for everyone in this group, as we will be working independently to help bring clean water to a new area.

  1. How will you know you are successful? (In this section, we want to know how your commitment is MEASURABLE. Identify specific results on which you want to report back. The impact of your commitment can be determined in many ways; whether you’re measuring funds raised, volunteers engaged, or progress towards goals.)

The main way to know if our project is successful is by checking the status of the project a year after implementation. This will be done through health surveys as well as a survey of the well system. If the people’s general health has improved, the project can be deemed successful as the clean water will have improved quality of life. Also, checking to make sure the pump still functions normally and regularly will help check the sustainability of the project.

Student Biography


Angelica Makuch is the current president of an organization called Arkansas Engineers Abroad. She also participates in the Biological Engineering Student club as well as Engineering Stucco. She has done research with the House for Sustainability as well as worked with the Environmental Defense Fund. Her main goals include working with clean water and with the environment.

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2016 CGIU University of Arkansas Commitment Makers: Waterborne Pathogen Detection in Minimalist Environments

Student Commitment to Action:

  1. Please write a 2-3 sentence description (in the third person) which summarizes your CGI U Commitment to Action.

This Commitment to Action addresses the need for rapid water quality assessment in developing countries and disaster zones by developing a biosensor that can detect water-borne pathogens without the use of electricity or large equipment. The biosensor is envisioned to be as small as a finger, detects pathogens by amplifying the DNA specific to the pathogen, and indicates a (positive) result visually. After the device is constructed by the University of Arkansas with the help of NowDiagnostics in Springdale, AR, it will be tested in Belize where University of Arkansas students frequently conduct local infrastructure projects.

  1. CGI U students work to address specific global challenges. What is the problem or issue you are working to address? (If you reference statistics or facts please cite your source(s).)

 Each year more than 200 million people are affected by floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters (UNICEF) that often interrupt water and electricity services for extended periods. Currently, microbiological assessments of water typically either require a minimum of 24 hours to complete (CDC), or electricity and lab equipment. The biosensor we are seeking to develop will address the issue of fast pathogen detection without the use of electricity or large equipment. While the technology can be adopted virtually anywhere, its target population is natural disaster victims, relief personnel, and anyone living or working in a minimalist environment. A minimalist environment here is defined as a setting with little or no infrastructure that does not have access to equipment or electricity. Target populations include the rural citizens of Belize who have no means to easily assess their water quality, or individuals in Haiti who have not completely rebuilt critical infrastructure.

  1. What activities will YOU/YOUR GROUP (and, if appropriate, your partners) undertake to address this issue? (In this section, we want to understand how your commitment is SPECIFIC and attainable. Define your goal, outline your planned activities, discuss how they will be carried out, and include a timeline for these activities.)

The biosensor will use loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) to identify DNA unique to a particular pathogen. There are four challenges we are currently investigating: heating a 100 microliter sample of water to a specific temperature for 45 minutes, developing the appropriate LAMP methodology for the pathogen we intend to detect, finding a means of producing a visual result, and packaging the product into a small and self-contained device.  Guiding the student effort is a seven person team of faculty, engineers, and scientists at the University and NowDiagnostics.  The former are experts in biochemical engineering and molecular biology, whereas the latter specialize in constructing point-of-care single use diagnostic devices.  To heat the water sample, we are adapting the chemistry used to self-heat ready to eat meals (MREs) into a format that can work on small volumes.  We already have designed the LAMP methodology, will test for the presence of the ipaH gene of shigella, and have several dye options to choose from to indicate a visual result.  To package the device, we are partnering with a local company which specializes in the construction of devices similar to home pregnancy kits.  NowDiagnostics has the capability of constructing and rapidly testing device designs due to in house 3D printing capabilities. We anticipate finishing prototype development in February. Deployment of the device could occur as early as late April when the University of Arkansas undertakes its yearly project in Belize which is led by the Civil Engineering Department.

  1. How is this different from what you have done before? (In this section, we want to make sure your commitment is NEW. Each commitment must be a new project for the individual or group making the commitment. If the commitment is an expansion of an existing effort, consider focusing on a different geographical area, working with new partners, or fundraising for a cause new to your interests.)

We are a group of chemical engineering students that have previous research experience in solar energy, water treatment, and cancer research. Although we have attended CGI U previously through a water sanitation project in Belize, the project did not require an application of our chemical engineering skills this project. This research is relevant to our future career goals in that we plan to pursue water treatment in graduate school even though none of us have any research experience in water quality assessment, an important precursor to any type of water treatment. The biosensor research is an exciting opportunity for all of us because it has an international significance where most of us want to work. Furthermore, we get to design and develop a new product in partnership with a local company, a process that none of us have experienced either.

  1. How will you know you are successful? (In this section, we want to know how your commitment is MEASURABLE. Identify specific results on which you want to report back. The impact of your commitment can be determined in many ways; whether you’re measuring funds raised, volunteers engaged, or progress towards goals.)

The first step of commitment’s success is measured by the biosensor’s ability to produce a definitively positive visual result in samples where pathogen DNA is present and a negative result when no pathogen DNA is present. It is important to underscore the latter, because a primer that targets the particular DNA sequence could target the same sequence in a harmless biological material and thus yield a false positive. After validating the technology in the lab, the second step’s success is measured by our ability to package the biosensor into a self-contained and small format without compromising its performance. Finally, the third step includes deploying the biosensor to a developing country like Belize as previously discussed. Besides the biosensor’s ability to detect pathogens, success here is measured by how effectively a simple instruction manual teaches proper usage of the final device.


Student Team Biographies:


(L-R) Bryce Jones, Kimberly Cribbs, Michael Reinisch

Michael Reinisch

Michael is a senior chemical engineering and physics student at the University of Arkansas. He has participated in over six research projects that address solar energy, air pollution, and sustainable energy storage, and is now working on his seventh research project that addresses water quality assessment. Besides volunteering regularly and assisting in campus events, his most significant leadership role has been in Arkansas Engineers Abroad (AEA), where he led a sanitation development project in More Tomorrow, Belize. Michael has previously attended CGIU in 2014 as a result of AEA’s involvement in the local community and presence in the media like NPR and the UofA honors college blog. After finishing his undergraduate degrees at the UofA, Michael will pursue graduate studies in solar-based water treatment in developing countries.

Kimberly Cribbs

Kimberly is an undergraduate researcher and leader with a passion for applying engineering to serve the needs of others. In 2014, she collaborated with her university to organize a student-led, service learning trip to Belize to access water and sanitation conditions and spent two months in South Africa working with a research team to evaluate the efficacy of two point-of-use drinking water technologies after a year of use in households in the Limpopo Province. This year, she spent one month in Ghana conducting a preliminary study to analyze a method for modifying laterite, a rock type, to develop a low-cost, sustainable fluoride adsorbent to improve water quality in the Bongo District. Currently, she is leading the construction-phase of a project she initiated to build a 3,300 gallon rainwater catchment system for Tri Cycle Farm, a non-profit garden serving the food insecure in her community.

Bryce Jones

Bryce is a senior chemical engineering student at the University of Arkansas. He is the Vice President of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers chapter at the university, and has previously served as a committee member of the Honors College Ambassadors program. In terms of research, Bryce has been a part of another chemical engineering laboratory focused on water research and a biomedical laboratory focused on cell detection for a cumulative 2 ½ years of experience. In addition to research, he also has industry experience with water treatment, working for Nalco, an Ecolab company. During previous summers, Bryce has served as a Volunteer in Park (VIP) with the National Park Service, where he earned his mentorship with the program and accumulated over 200 hours of service. In the future, Bryce is applying for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program in order to pursue environmental engineering research at Purdue University.

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Inspired and Invigorated: A CGI U Commitment Mentor Perspective

V__DB71Inspired and invigorated, those are two words I always use to describe my experience at CGI U. My first two years attending as a commitment maker were filled with new ideas and networking opportunities with some of the most purpose-driven people I have ever met. From speakers on stage, to commitment-makers from abroad, there was always an opportunity to draw on the positive energy of others succeeding in their noble pursuits. Seemingly unsolvable problems in education, nature, human rights, poverty, and public health were framed as great opportunities to apply innovative thinking and approaches. I came away from my trips to Washington D.C. and St. Louis with a renewed sense of purpose and motivation.

What also made my experiences at CGI U productive was the dedication of my Commitment Mentor. Each CGI U commitment-maker is assigned a mentor that is experienced and well-connected in the field the commitment most directly relates to. My mentor helped me prepare for the exhibition and worked with me to further refine my commitment goals. I felt prepared to attend the CGI U meeting because of the close connection I built with my mentor and I wanted to find a way to pay it forward. The opportunity naturally presented itself in taking on the role of being a Commitment Mentor myself. CGI U alums and leaders in the private and non-profit sectors are invited to apply every year, so I figured I would give it a go. I knew I could provide both in-depth knowledge in the environmental field as well as guidance for making the most of the in-person experience.

When I found out I was selected to be the Conservation Commitment Mentor starting in 2014, I was ecstatic. I was nervous, but ready to take on the challenge. I looked forward to reading the commitments and mapping out ways to improve the commitment plan of action and enhancing the network of the students. As I began to communicate with commitment-makers directly and learn more about their projects the same two words came to mind that I used to describe my CGI U experience of years past. With each conversation I was inspired and invigorated to do my best to make the commitments a reality. What changed in my perspective was the inspiration and feeling of invigoration was focused on the commitment-makers, rather than my individual commitment to action.

I look forward to continuing to help commitment-makers this year as they prepare for the fast-approaching meeting and continue pursuing their passion for making a difference in the world. I will be an active listener and an available resource every step of the way. I am ready to mentor, here’s to CGI U 2015!

Written by John Kester III, Doctoral student at the University of Arkansas

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2015 CGI-U Commitment Makers

Congratulations to our 2015 CGI-U team of Commitment Makers!!  Read on to learn more about these individuals and the great projects they will be completing.

Angela Chang








Angela graduated in 2012 with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. While working as a registered nurse she witnessed the health disparity gap that exists in the community, and the perception bias that health care providers have, so she enrolled in the Masters of Community Health Promotion and Education Program at the University of Arkansas to specialize as a health educator.  Angela serves as a member of the Washington Country Hometown Health Improvement Committee and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, the Graduate Student Advisor for the International Bolivian Organization, and the graduate research intern for UAMS-Northwest Arkansas; she works alongside faculty and staff in minority health research and minority health advancement and improvement. Angela is also the graduate assistant for the Multicultural Center at the University, assisting with the recruitment and retention of underrepresented, minority, low-income and first generation students. encouraging academic success, leadership and professional development.


Commitment to Action.  Angela will be educating a closed-knit Marshallese community on type II diabetes self-management through healthier dietary practices, nutrition literacy and gardening. In doing so, Marshallese individuals with diabetes will live a healthier life with less health complications, decrease the cost in emergent care sought by this population and improve their (and their family’s) overall qualify of life. This commitment will also help bring into the light the lack of resources that exist and are required to advance health among ethnic minorities as unique as the Marshallese.

Specific Global Challenge. Diabetes affects over 18 million people in the United States, is the 7th leading cause of death and totaled $245 billion in diagnosis costs and $176 billion in direct medical costs in 2010 (ADA, 2014). Prevalence of type II diabetes in the Marshallese is among the highest of any population group in the world; diabetes in the Marshallese population ( living in the US and the Marshall Islands) range from 20% to 50% compared to 8.3% for the US population and 4% worldwide  (Minegishi, Fujito, Nakajima, et al., 2007).  Nutrition is an essential component of effective diabetes management, it guides food selection and adjusts dietary intake or tracks quantitative contribution to the overall diet. Knowledge can then implemented into skills which increase monitor in intake and glycemic index, resulting in higher self-regulatory associated with self-management especially across ethnic minorities such as the Marshallese (Sarkar et al. 2006).

Goal.  Increase Marshallese population’s diabetes self-management through dietary modifications including:

  • Marshallese community will learn how to read nutrition information on food labels (nutrition literacy).
  • Marshallese families will make better food choices and adjust their dietary intake; decrease high fat foods and increase fiber, fruit and vegetables intake.
  • Marshallese families will learn how to cook healthier, well-balanced meals.
  • Marshallese community will learn the importance and advantages of growing own vegetables.


  1. Consult with Registered Dietitian to review acceptable cooking recipes that can be shared and taught to the Marshallese community by January 12th, 2015.
  2. Collaborate with community center in Springdale, Arkansas and Springdale High School in setting up cooking classes at least bimonthly to teach Marshallese community about food preparation and taste-testing Feb. 2015 through May 2015. Initial contact will be January 12th. 2015, with office classes starting in February prospectively.
  3. Teach the Marshallese community nutrition literacy (during weekly meet times with Marshallese families Jan. 2015 through May 2015).
  4. Partner with Marshallese churches to set up community gardens as an effort to integrate experiential nutrition with gardening by March 15th, 2015.

Novelty.  This commitment will incorporate culturally adapted evidence-based interventions that maintain the fidelity of the evidence-based intervention, but adapt to meet the specific cultural and language needs, as well as religious practices of the community. Furthermore, this commitment will be family-based, given how closed-knit the Marshallese community is, and educate not only the individual affected by type II diabetes but entire families as well–resulting in a broader effect. For the first time, this commitment will include collaborative partnerships with the community, the schools and even churches to assist type II diabetes self-management among the Marshallese population.

 Measurement for Success.  The success of this commitment will be measured in the following ways:

  1. Pre/During/Post survey completions by family members regarding changes (or lack of) in dietary practices and nutritional intake, as well as attitude towards food and diabetes management. Surveys will be completed by family members, as well as individual who has type II diabetes.
  2. Self-reporting of diabetes complications and ER visits.
  3. Surveying area health care providers for improvement in cases, decrease in complication on admission, and improved results in glycemic index and overall management.

Tyler Hartney



Tyler Hartney is a member of the University of Arkansas Honors College and is in the process of writing a thesis on independent voters. He has had three internships on a gubernatorial candidate’s campaign. He is the president and founder of At The Core (a 2013 CGIU project). He is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha (a political science honors fraternity) as well as the pre-law society. He grew up in the Midwest and moved to Arkansas when he was sixteen. He genuinely cares about the safety of his classmates and the utilization of technology and is appalled by the number of sexual offenses on college campuses across the country; this is why he has decided to band together to create a mobile application to reduce these horrific statistics.


Commitment to Action.  We are committed to the development of a reliable application for students and other members of the university community. As a team of students ourselves, we know the value of feeling safe on campus and having a safe way to get home at night. Having the ability to specify exactly how to contact somebody with the click of a button, as well as send your GPS location, in the case of an emergency might give you the added comfort you want when you are in need of a ride or if you are walking alone.

Specific global challenge. It is unfortunate that the number of reported sexual offenses on college campuses is so high, according the statistics released by the United State’s government. It is even more discouraging that many more of these crimes are said to go unreported. The government is currently working to get schools across the nation to fix their policies on sexual assaults. Our commitment is aimed to fulfill the university’s need to reconstruct their policies and significantly reduce these statistics. This is about the health and public safety of students on campus. This is about feeling empowered and protected. This is about securing this zone for academics and not for fearing being victimized. Our app isn’t just for students; our app is for all of those who live and/or work on the college campus.

Activities/Goals.  Our app is currently in the development phase. Many of our steps have already been completed, but there is still a significant amount left to be done. We need to establish a name for ourselves and attend the SafeRide United Conference and begin expanding our ideas to different universities. For that to be done, we are on track to complete the app and begin to beta test by march of 2015. We would like to have begun partnerships with our universities by the end of the summer of 2015. By 2016 we would like to have traveled to different universities to discuss the idea of integration and have reduced these abhorrent statistics on at least 10 campuses by December 2016. We have already started discussions with staff members at the University of Arkansas. We have began the creation of the app. The biggest priority now is to complete and perfect the app to begin putting it in use.

Novelty.  This is nothing like my previous project. I am working with new people on a completely separate project. At The Core (the previous project) is still running on campus and is about reducing political tension between parties on campus and promoting compromise between the future leaders of our government. Harkurtis Mobile Systems is about the development of an app for students to feel safe on campus and alert their campus police departments of attacks with the click of a button and the submission of a GPS alert. It is about extending this signal to students in the nearby area to come to the defense of other students. It is about ease, precision, and response time that will not only be a reactive force against these offenders, but merely having this tool will thwart off predators as well.

 Measurement for Success.  We will determine our app’s success by the number of downloads and partnered schools as well as the reduction in statistics of sexual offenses in the schools where our app is present. We hope to see a high number of downloads and hopefully just a few number of uses. We hope that this will accompany a major reduction of those offenses that are currently dominating the talk of public policy when it comes to college campus safety.



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Rainwater Catchment System

10449538_10152733769610996_5988956045137932676_nOn August 12th, Kimberly Cirbbs (the original Rainwater Catchment System leader), Don Bennett (Tri Cycle Farm’s owner), Josh Harp (volunteer contractor), and I met to discuss the project logistics. We scheduled tentative work days for the upcoming school year, and we discussed material costs. Kimberly and I also discussed possible “Build Your Own Multi-Barrel Rainwater Catchment System” flyers to be distributed to the public. The purpose of our CGIU proposal is to not only build this Rainwater Catchment System for Tri Cycle Farm but also to teach the community how to construct their own. We had a minor setback in our building plans before school started. Dr. Osborn (Arkansas Engineers Abroad’s faculty advisor) informed us that we couldn’t perform engineering jobs without being engineers, and that we must get our plans certified by a professional engineer before continuing the project. There was some resistance at first, but after several talks between the academic community and Tri Cycle Farm this issue was resolved.

On August 30th, Arkansas Engineers Abroad members and I completed our first Rainwater Catchment System workday at Tri Cycle Farm. Roughly six people attended including one lady from outside of the University of Arkansas’s student body. Our objective was to clean the tanks and set up half of the barn’s guttering system. Surprisingly, the cleaning tanks task proved to be more challenging than the guttering system task. McKee Foods had donated the tanks to our project for free, but they still contained a small film of soy lecithin residue to be disposed of before use. The soy lecithin is a nontoxic food-grade ingredient found in most Little Debbie snacks. The problem we encountered was how to clean the tanks of the residue without getting the soy lecithin all over Tri Cycle Farm’s gardens. We tried using a power washer and Dawn soap, but ended up making a huge mess and wasting a lot of water in the process (which goes against our purpose of making Tri Cycle Farm water sustainable). We separated the water from the soy lecithin by hand and disposed of it in bags and put them in the trash can since it was food-grade and needed no special dumping area. It took us six hours to clean out two tanks. We had eight more to clean. Even though we encountered many problems, I feel that this was a great learning experience for everyone involved. Everyone who showed up had a part in the project and came up with ideas to clean out the tanks. They all enjoyed themselves despite getting really dirty and really tired. Most of the Arkansas Engineers Abroad people who showed up were new comers and unsure about their status in the group. Now, each of them have been fully integrated into the organization and have participated as much as possible at each event. This work day may have not gone as smoothly and efficiently as planned, but it appeared to be a great way to start the school year and welcome the new comers.

On September 7th, we completed our second workday. The objective was to efficiently finish cleaning out the tanks. This time six to eight Arkansas Engineer Abroad members participated, and it only took us three hours to clean out all of the tanks (including the first two we had previously “cleaned”). We obviously had a faster process. We also didn’t waste as much water as before because we reused the dirty water in the tank soaking and scrubbing process.

On September 8th, I used the p-card to buy lumber materials from Josh Harp. We originally planned to buy the lumber directly from the lumber mill, but they only accepted cash or checks. We decided to use Josh as our middle man since he owns a Treehouse Business and usually buys the lumber for his clients anyways. We wanted to buy the lumber at least two weeks before the next work day (which looks like will be on September 28th). On September 18th, Don Bennett assured me that the lumber had already arrived at Tri Cycle Farm and is being safely stored.

Our future plans for this project include finishing the guttering system, setting the foundation for the Rainwater Catchment System, building the frame, and connecting the barrels together. I think it will only take three to four more workdays to complete the Rainwater Catchment System at Tri Cycle Farm. We still need to address our community outreach portion of the proposal, which I plan to focus on after the Rainwater Catchment System is built. In regards to funding, I know that the Latrine and Drainage Arkansas Engineers Abroad CGIU proposal has permitted to give their unneeded funds to the Rainwater Catchment System project. At the moment, the only thing that needs to be bought is guttering materials, plumbing materials, cement mix, and wood posts.

The Rainwater Catchment System project has been progressing extremely fast, and I can thank the open communication between each involved party and the extensive student body support for that. I am confident we will have this project finished in two to three months.

-Merrrisa J.

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Belize: The Foundation is Finished!

DSC_0192This trip was a great one. Together with More Tomorrow locals, five AEA members built a water tower foundation that will sustain hurricane-force winds without fail. A special thanks goes to Angela Oxford, Rosa Edwards, Norman Dennis, Janet Bowlin, and Buddy Babcock, whose hard work allowed four university students to be able to afford the trip to Belize this May. Through the trip, these students were able to participate in the opportunity of a lifetime.

Minor setbacks notwithstanding, the foundation was laid over three long, hard days in the Belizean humidity. On the first day, the work site, brush and weeds, was cleared out through a controlled burn. Later, the measured dimensions for the foundation were dug using a hired backhoe controller. The large mounds of dirt that were displaced got evenly spread across the work site. The backhoe operator was paid for his services. Before the AEA team left the work site, some rebar cages had begun to be formed by members and were left safely inside the nearby church.

On the second day, rebar was still being formed into cages. Those not working with rebar worked outside, where plywood was being placed as a divider between the four legs of the soon-to-be foundation. Those working outdoors used the plywood to create a hollow, 3-D “plus” sign. From the moment the plywood structure was up, workers began filling the hollowed parts with dirt, which would fill the spaces between the dividers to serve as support once the four main legs were filled with the heavy concrete. The concrete, though, would have to wait another day.

On the third day, the shoveling of dirt to fill the in-betweens of the dividers continued, while inside the rebar cages were being completed and loaded into the four squares that were soon to be filled with wet concrete. As soon as the concrete truck arrived, everyone hurried outside to watch the final moments of the foundation’s construction. Wet concrete filled one hole. Suddenly, disaster struck. While an adjacent hole was empty and lacked support, the wall between it and the now half-filled portion next to it buckled in. The plywood cracked, and everyone yelled at the truck driver to cease flow. Everything was quite. The plywood held, but everyone knew that it was only a matter of time before it gave way. Quickly, the rest of the holes were filled with concrete in smaller increments as the truck rotated around the four squares. Just avoiding catastrophe, the AEA team took a sigh of relief as the last of the concrete filled the remaining square to the brim.

AEA had done its job on this trip. The two days of free time were spent traveling to the western and eastern borders of Belize, Xunatunich and Placencia beach, respectively, as a well-earned reward. These free days were out-of-pocket expenses of the AEA team, which only needed to cover gas as the both sites were free to the public. Upon landing back in the State, while some were staying home and others were traveling again, the AEA team missed Belize. Soon, though, they will be back to check up on the water tower and well that is to be contracted out over the summer. The team plans on returning in December of 2013, when an educational program will be implemented also. Safe to say, there is much left to be done for More Tomorrow, and AEA will be there every step of the way.

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Reflection: National Campus Pantry Coalition

Full Circle’s experience April 5 – 7 at the Clinton Global Initiative University in St. Louis, Missouri was nothing short of incredible.  Four of our committee members traveled to Washington University to see a multitude of amazing projects and speeches from around the world.  Our experiences can be best summed up as being unbelievable in a two-fold nature.

First, being presented with the opportunity to meet and speak with so many dedicated students from across the world on different social issues was inspiring.  In an ever developing world, we are integrally connected not only to our friends and associates around us, but to those from different cities, states, or even countries.   CGIU represented a microcosm of this idea – bringing groups of students together from around the globe to work toward a better future embodies the true purpose of the Clinton Foundation.  More than anything, this developed a true sense of camaraderie among students – we spoke to and learned from students from England, South Sudan and China, among many others. We soon realized that the attempt to improve the world is not simply an individualistic act but rather one which necessitates an international effort.

Second, we were privileged to hear from many great minds such as Chelsea Clinton, Kenneth Cole, Jack Dorsey, William Kamkwamg, Zainab Salbi, and of course President Bill Clinton. The speakers shared more with us than simply their stories – they imparted the necessity of perseverance and collaboration even when times are tough.  They further challenged each of us to reanalyze our approaches to our commitments, ensuring that each commitment succeeds to its utmost ability.  The speakers also were integral in showing us that even the most difficult commitments can be achieved through hard work and ingenuity.

Our commitment to create a National Campus Pantry Coalition for universities and schools and is by far our largest project yet at Full Circle. Thankfully, the workshops and informational sessions challenged us to think about our own approach. We were able to evaluate our own commitment from top to bottom and decide if our current approach was the best, focusing upon efficiency toward creating the best result possible. Sessions on leadership and team building were offered and complimented with other sections on working with unlikely allies – these were important in cementing the idea that working together is not simply an aid, but a true necessity in achieving what one hopes to achieve. Our group also learned about different fundraising techniques and how to motivate people to follow one’s work as progress is made. Further, we were able to attend sessions on promotion and social media; in respect to advertising and spreading further publicity of our work. We even had the opportunity to look at how to effectively evaluate our own project and contemplate areas of sustainability, feasibility, marketing, and the required resources needed to create a coalition.

Truly, the conference gave us a complete top-to-bottom method to look at our commitments and improve each area, to ultimately receive the best results possible, because more than anything a volunteer commitment is measured in not what it aims to achieve, but what it truly does achieve.  CGIU was a great way to help us kick off our National Campus Pantry Coalition and gave us numerous tools needed to see that our foundation would be solid. If you are genuinely concerned with making the world a better place, CGIU is the conference to attend!

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Reflections on CGIU: Sustainable Arkansas

DSC_0605After attending CGIU 2012 in Washington D.C. and experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I naturally had high expectations for CGIU 2013 in St. Louis. One of the key takeaways from a CGIU meeting for attendees is a list of concrete action steps to achieving success in one’s commitment to action. President Clinton mentioned numerous times how important it is that students take action and that the purpose of the meeting is to measure success. Skill sessions and plenary speakers provide the path to building a commitment to action from the ground up and you leave the meeting with clear next steps. Although these guidelines are crucial to one’s commitment to action, it was not the most useful takeaway from the meeting. For me, it was the consistent theme of unity during the plenary sessions and the call for unconstrained innovation.

During a plenary session, President Clinton recalled the funding of the Human Genome Project during his presidency and how the results provided a multitude of benefits to the science community. However, President Clinton took the time to harp on one specific benefit and that was the discovery of our intense similarities to one another. The superficial differences that so often separate people and put them at odds only account for a miniscule percentage of the human genome. We need to be constantly reminded of how we are all in this together and we are connected to one another in so many ways. Helping others is both selfless and selfish. One can be selfless by putting others first and selfish at the same time because outreach and support provides happiness to someone active in public service. Common ground exists at every turn and each commitment to action requires and deserves an equal level of passion. The purpose for recognizing our similar bonds is to connect for good. The meeting brought together like-minded and like-hearted people who are fearless in their endeavors as changemakers.  The overall theme even came full circle by tempering the zeal for action with suggesting patience and taking the appropriate time to do things right. At the end of the day there is no strict step-by-step process everyone can follow to success in their commitment to action, just as there is no step-by-step scientific method that all scientists follow. Instead, there is general guidance we can follow on our uniquely innovative paths to our goals that unifies us in our mission. The broader recommendations of pursuing change are what really stuck with me from CGIU 2013.

My favorite quote from the event came from when President Clinton was providing advice for overcoming discouragement from others who don’t think your commitment to action isn’t possible. President Clinton said there are two things people can never take from you, “your mind and your heart.” This sentiment was the icing on the cake for my inspiration to make the world a better place. If you truly believe in your commitment in your mind and your heart, there is no limit to what is possible. At the CGIU meeting everyone believes in one another and it is the perfect opportunity to express your mind and heart fully. I am happy to say I had another once-in-a-lifetime experience and hope to be at CGIU 2014 next year!

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Reflections on CGIU: At the Core

Twelve hours of driving, three days, new faces, new friends, and an opportunity not to miss. Welcome to CGIU.  CGIU is an opportunity for the change-makers of the world, particularly college and university students, to come together to discuss the various commitments that we’ve made to improve our world. It’s also an excellent opportunity to hear incredible guest speakers from all over the world as they just spew out advice on how we can better our commitments that will better the world. Our commitment is called At the Core. We are developing ways to engage high school students in discussion on controversial topics such as: racism, peace & war, women’s/LGBT rights, and religion  & coexistence.  So, we were honored and privileged to not only be selected but also to attend CGIU in St. Louis. It turned out to be an experience like non other. Tyler and I were absolutely stoked that we were able to meet President Bill Clinton and the other famous faces. As stated before, the experience was unlike anything else I’ve been apart of and I’m very grateful for the opportunity and those that helped us get there.

From the various sessions attended, we were given advice that could do nothing but improve our work. For instance, after attending Chelsea Clinton’s forum on women’s issues, we have decided that it is imperative to include these issues in our discussions amongst high school students.  One session that I attended was the Human Rights Revolution, an aspect of international relations that I want to work with. Listening to Alec Ross, a State Department advisor, discuss the use of social media in human rights was incredible. I learned that in our future development as an organization we can include an online aspect where students can further their discussions. Also, I had the opportunity to meet athlete, Sam Acho, while Tyler met actor, Matthew Perry. What we both gained from these meetings was the motivational advice to never give up and that we had to believe in what we’re doing. The last session that I attended was on how to build and strengthen the team. Although, it’s just Ty and I at this point, they pointed out some significant considerations. One consideration being, that we needed to go over ten things that will cause us to fail in our efforts. A very critical aspect that we drew from the Clinton Global Initiative was that information technology is critical. We had originally planned on attempting to get local figures to join our program and introduce our topics; we now decided that it’d be easier, logistically, to email celebrities to make special videos for us that would not only capture the attention of each student, but could also communicate a much deeper experience with the issue of the day. Since last weekend, we have created a website, a twitter, and gained followers for the At the Core Facebook page. Overall, our experience at the Clinton Global Initiative University was invigorating and inspiring as well as incredibly helpful by contributing new ways to look at things and advice on how to swerve around obstacles that building an organization might throw at us.

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