Providing Solutions to Problems Continents Away

Two projects originating out of the Introduction to Engineering, Innovation, and Design course have been successfully implemented far, far away from New Haven, CT - in East Africa's Mara River to be exact.

Two teams of students worked with Amanda Subalusky and Chris Dutton, graduate students affiliated with Global Water for Sustainability, to develop solutions to monitor flow and water quality in the Mara River.

One team addressed Subalusky and Dutton's need for real-time data on the river's water level. As water level in the Mara determines water quality and the amount of water available for human extraction, knowing this data on a real-time basis is invaluable. However, commercially available solutions are prohibitively expensive. The Yale students provided a solution by designing a battery-powered ultrasonic depth logger with a SIM card to allow for data uplink to the Internet, all inside a cleverly designed waterproof housing. 

The other student group designed a meter housing out of aircraft aluminum which they determined met both weight and strength requirements to protect the expensive and fragile water quality meters. The housing also featured a sieve on one end and a polypropylene funnel on the other to prevent meter clogging by hippo feces, which can both damage the meter and prevent accurate data collection. This new design provides better protection than the plastic housings the research group had previously used, a vital requirement since it is placed in a river full of large animals. Just last summer, a hippo stepped on the one of their housings and cracked it, missing the meter by less than an inch. 

Both projects are now active and providing the research team with solutions to serious challenges they had faced in the field.

For more information on the project, including real-time data, visit the Adventures in the Mara website.