Inside Rensselaer
* Rebecca Moore
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Rebecca Moore: Developing a  Playground-Powered Water Pump
Rebecca Moore is determined to make a difference. Inspired by her time studying abroad in Mexico and helping design a playground-powered water filtration system for a grade school in rural Peru, Moore will volunteer with the Peace Corps after graduating from Rensselaer May 17.

“We’re so privileged here in the United States, we sort of lose sight of the basic necessities of life that so many people around the world don’t have,” she says. “We all need to do our part to help improve the situation, lead by example, and inspire other people to get involved.”

Moore stresses that with motivation and a little snooping, every Rensselaer student can find a cause or project through which to use knowledge and technology in order to make a significant positive impact on the world.

Moore, an environmental engineering major, spent half of her junior year studying at the Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico, through the Global Engineering Education Exchange, or Global E3, program. Along with playing on the Instituto varsity volleyball team and taking classes in Spanish, she was able to travel extensively throughout the country.

“My experience in Mexico opened me up to a completely different world,” Moore says. “It made me realize how little I know about the world and how much I want to see and learn from other cultures.”

While at the Instituto Technologico, Moore learned about a civil engineering project to design a water filtration system for a small rural community near Monterrey that lacked running water. Instituto students contributed to the design of a water filter that would allow residents to remove contaminants and toxins from well water.

Moore’s time in Mexico, and her exposure to this project, opened her eyes not only to the importance of learning about and experiencing other cultures, but also to the critical need for using one’s talents and abilities to help better the living situations of those in need, she says.

After returning to Rensselaer, Moore took inspiration from the Instituto water project, and as an independent study helped design a new type of water pump and purification system for a small school in Cusco, Peru. The system used playground equipment, such as a seesaw or merry-go-round, to pump water from the ground into the school. The water would then be sterilized, filtered, and ready for use in the school.

The project was led by Lupita Montoya, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rensselaer.

The daughter of a grade-school teacher and an information technology training manager, Moore hails from Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. After Commencement, she will embark on a two-year assignment as a water resources engineer with the Peace Corps, at a to-be-determined location in Central America.

Moore says she’s equally nervous and excited about her next adventure, but is confident that her time in Mexico was good preparation for her forthcoming Peace Corps assignment. In any situation when one is traveling and living abroad, Moore says, it’s important to recognize that there will invariably be language and cultural missteps. Recognizing that such differences exist and being open those differences, she says, is critical for having a productive and positive experience.

Still unsure of what type of career she will pursue after volunteering with the Peace Corps, Moore says she would like to continue traveling and see as much of the world as possible, before settling down with a job. Whatever field she does choose, however, will likely relate to drinking water or water infrastructure, and advocating sustainability regulation on a local, national, and international level.

Moore stresses that with motivation and a little snooping, every Rensselaer student can find a cause or project through which to use knowledge and technology in order to make a significant positive impact on the world.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of engineer you are or what your major is,” Moore says, “there are ways for you to help.”

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 2, Number 9, May 16, 2008
©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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