Sanitation: Male Team Member Reflection

Pre Building Conserns:

Coming from such a high from our work on the B- Section hall it was time to get back into research mode and work on our second project.  Our second assignment was to research, plan out, design and build an innovative sanitation system that would be used by the VPUU satellite site inside Monbwabisi Park.  Once assigned to our second project we began to our initial research in order fully understand the need and purpose of this type of experimental system.  It was very clear form this point on that this was an important project not only for the people that would be eventually using the facility but for the relationship between the WPI and the VPUU.  Needless to say we did not want to screw anything up but because this is such a “dynamic” project every day we had more and more changes in research plans and logistics leading all of us to get more and more frustrated.  Originally we were looking into an Anaerobic Baffled Reactor (ABR) to effectively and simply treat waste.  The system itself is very new and in some cases still in the experimental phase, so it was very difficult to find and detailed information about the construction or any other system parameters to try to derive other parts of the system.  On top of not being able to find out detailed plans on this complex construction project we had conflicting information on which sort of “output” system we should use.  From all of our different sponsors and other sources we were being explained all the pros and cons of using a soakaway or a leech field and at many times settling on one to only to have our minds changed the next day.  From an engineering standpoint once you design a working system you stay with that design unless a flaw presents itself or you find a more efficient or simpler design- so this constant change of design or lack thereof, of design was not the way any of us on the team operate.

To clarify we harbored no ill will to anything in particular we just all knew the reality of the fact that we only had a limited time to complete our task and with all these other “considerations” we had to constantly be looking into we all felt like the project was going nowhere.  The snowball effect of this culminated when we made a rash last minute decision in piping size that would have led to a catastrophic failure of the system and more importantly to some a large  waste of money.

Although this poor choice had many bad points it did shed light on our working strategies and our ineffective planning techniques.  We all took a step back and cooled off, and developed a really detailed step by step construction plan that thoroughly express all of our thoughts and ideas.  With this plan we got a solid green light from all the sponsors and advisors to go ahead with the actual construction.

Digging in the Sand:

Our work zone is to what any little kid would be the ideal sand box-got to admit I did too.  After doing some perch tests in order to see if it was likely that these wholes would collapse in on us and finding out that they wouldn’t we jumped right into the digging.  Compared to the somewhat laxed pace of our work on the B-Section Hall the work on this job was a lot more arduous and fast paced.  Every morning we hit the ground running so to speak getting the workers on board with what we are doing and then start digging or gluing the pipe.   Every day was a battled the clock as well as the drifting sand to get the trenches dug and cleared.  On multiple occasions we had to unfortunately leave some of the trenches open overnight and in one case over the weekend to only re-dig them the next work day.  Just so the point gets a cross it is really hard tiring work.

Our relationship with the workers from the VPUU was not the same as our volunteers from the B-Section Hall.  The relationship really did not evolve over time as it did with the volunteers.  In retro spec it was possibly because we were more stressed out trying to finish that we did not have the extra time to get to know these guys as well as the others.  From another basic stand point these men were being paid to be there this doesn’t mean they were not passionate about their work but their motivation was not necessarily the same from the volunteers at the B-Section Hall.