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Civil and Environmental Engineering 24, Section 2
Providing Clean, Safe Water for Developing Countries (1 unit, P/NP)
Professor John Dracup
See days and times below. , 212 O'Brien Hall (first meeting), Class number: 46390

The class will meet four times: Thursday, August 24, 2017, 6:00-8:00 pm in 212 O'Brien Hall; Saturday, August 26, 2017, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm in 212 and 125 O'Brien Hall; Saturday, September 2, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm in 212 and 125 O'Brien Hall; and Wednesday, September 6, 2017, 6:00-8:00 pm in 212 O'Brien Hall.

Course Threads UNESCO and WHO report that approximately 6,000 children under the age of five die each day in the developing world from the lack of clean water and sanitation. This is equivalent to twelve Boeing 747 jet passenger planes crashing each day of the year. However, biosand, membrane and ceramic water filters are simple and cheap technologies available to mitigate this problem.

These water filters have recently become widely used in the developing world as a means of purifying drinking water for individual household use. They provide an inexpensive and effective system of removing turbidity and pathogens (i.e. viruses, bacteria and worms) from polluted water.

Biosand filters can be readily made from local sources of sand and gravel. The bio layer is located at the top of the sand column and takes up to a few weeks to grow, feeding off the influent initially poured through the sand and gravel column. The outer container can be made from plastic or concrete, materials that are commonly available in the developing world. The pipes and connections are usually made of 1-inch PVC pipes.

Membrane water filtration is a method to remove viruses, bacteria and other contaminants from water by passing raw water through a microporous membrane. Most membrane filters for drinking water start with thin semi-permeable materials made from a synthetic polymer–manufactured as flat sheet stock or as hollow fibers. Many small, individual membranes are then bundled and formed into one of hundreds of different types of membrane modules. 

Ceramic filters remove viruses, bacteria and other contaminants by passing the raw water through a wall of ceramic material.

The purpose of this class will be to construct and test three different biosand filter containers, three different membrane filters and three different ceramic filters. The class of 18 freshman students will be divided into three teams, with six students per each type of filter category. Each team will test, assess and report on its own unique filters.   To obtain a passing grade, attendance at all of the four class meetings is mandatory. There will be no exceptions. Please check your schedule carefully before registering for this class. Please note that the 2nd class occurs during the Labor Day weekend. This is a Course Threads Theme Seminar.

Dr. John Dracup is a Professor of the Graduate School in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. His expertise is in water resource engineering and hydrology. He holds degrees from: the University of Washington, Seattle; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; and from the University of California, Berkeley.   His recent awards include being inaugurated into the "Order of the Black Blouse" by the Water Rights Court of Valencia, Spain; the designation of a Diplomat of the American Academy of Water Resource Engineering of the American Society of Civil Engineers; a Honorary Professorship at the Universidad Catolica St. Antonio of Murcia, Spain; and the “Agua para Todos” award from the Region of Murcia, Spain; he was a Senior Fulbright Scholar to Australia and he is a Fellow of the AGU, ASCE, AAAS and the AWRA.  He is active in providing clean water to developing countries as a volunteer for Rotary International.


Faculty web site: http://www.ce.berkeley.edu/faculty/faculty.php?id=205

Quotes from students in Spring 2016 seminar:

"Every minute of the course is valuable, and the course is very worth the Saturdays that you sacrifice."

"Great opportunity to meet older students, the professor, and work in small groups in class."

"You genuinely get a hands-on experience and will meet the best professor and good-minded people."

"It is very insightful. More than just concepts, it lets students create their own filter exactly like what was found online."


Quotes from students in Spring 2015 seminar:

"The professor and TA’s are really cool and it’s fun to construct your own filter and see the results yourself."

"I really like the seminar format; it is non-intensive but incredibly educational. We have access to professors and other students who are upper-class TA’s. I can work with other majors."

"This seminar not only focuses on the mechanics of engineering but also the rhetoric behind being a good engineer."

"Highly interactive. Professor has real world experience implementing filters. If interested in going into this field he is a wonderful resource!" - student in spring 2014 seminar

"Great group of people; was awesome to have some hands-on project work." - student in spring 2014

"Professor Dracup does a very good job of making freshman students feel at home in
Berkeley’s community and gives them a view into upper level work." - student in spring 2014

"Professor Dracup gives you the environment to develop skills and learn; you need to put the effort in to et all that you can out." - student in spring 2013 seminar

"It was a very enlightening and inspiring course. Because of the interactive aspect, it was easy to be engaged." - student in spring 2013

"It's time to start saving the world. This man Dracup is awesome!" - student in spring 2013
Freshman and Sophomore Seminars are co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Division
of the College of Letters & Science and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.
For further information about the program,
contact Alix Schwartz (alix@berkeley.edu / 642-8378).

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