Team USA emerged victorious at the Community Plumbing Challenge in Nashik, India. The goal of the challenge is to showcase skills of young professionals to create solutions to sanitation systems in developing countries.

School 125 in Nashik has approximately 500 students ranging from ages five to 13. The children are afraid and unwilling to use the bathrooms at the school, which are dark, poorly ventilated and mostly non-functional.

MSOE students Miya Preston (designer) and Jill Vande Boom (engineer) and Fox Valley Technical College students Adam Koenigs (plumber) and Peter Hollmaier (plumber and mason) comprised Team USA. They spent six months preparing for their week-long experience in India where they competed against Team Australia, Team Basque Country and Team India. Team USA was coached by MSOE assistant professor Douglas Nelson, architectural engineering graduate Judith Torres ’12, and Randy Lorge, FVTC instructor.

Upon arrival at the school on Nov. 1, Community Plumbing Challenge teams were welcomed by the school community and dignitaries. Each team presented their design proposals to improve the plumbing conditions of the bathroom and then collaborated to develop and implement a solution for the bathrooms at the school. They also worked with students to teach them the importance of hygiene by using hands-on activities and games.

Since Team USA was the winner, they acted as the project managers for the renovation. All materials and tools had to be easily available in the surrounding areas so the design could be used at multiple schools. Once designs were finalized, construction began on the hand washing stations and the toilets. The completion of construction was followed by a visit from the Indian Plumbing Association which has an interest in developing the Community Plumbing Challenge for other schools in the city.