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Otago Polytechnic Engineering students to help Vanuatu community

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A group of Otago Polytechnic Engineering students and staff are preparing to get stuck into a range of infrastructure projects on a remote Vanuatu island next month.

The 16-strong contingent will spend 10 days on the small island of Paama, one of 83 islands that comprise the nation of Vanuatu, where they will work on a variety of water, sanitation and health projects.

The Otago Polytechnic contingent’s forthcoming work, from 7-20 September, follows a similar project in 2018 on Paama, and comes on the back of earlier work done by Dunedin’s Highgate Presbyterian Church, which has helped improve infrastructure on the island.

The students and staff have been involved in a range of fund-raising activities in recent months. This includes quiz nights, managing car-parking at concert events, sausage sizzles and selling sleep-outs built at Otago Polytechnic.

The group is offering fellow Otago Polytechnic staff and students the opportunity to purchase solar-powered lighting systems that will be donated to households in Vanuatu.

Richard Nyhof, Head of the College of Engineering, Construction and Living Sciences, says the Vanuatu project is another example of Otago Polytechnic’s hands-on learning.

Specifically aimed at students who have completed Civil Engineering programmes in Water and Waste Systems and Water and Waste Management, the projects include water disinfection, desalination, gravity-based water systems, sanitation, solar pumps and solar cooking.

Importantly, the work on Paama integrates their classroom-based projects and academic theory with practical, real-world experience.

"Our approach to teaching equips learners with the confidence and ability to tackle real-world problems," Richard says.

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