Student Engineers Make Plans to Bring Electricity to Peruvian Village

April 10, 2016 | Kim Strobel

The Walla Walla University student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-WWU) held its annual spring fundraising gala on Feb. 27. Proceeds from the gala will support the EWB-WWU project in Japora, Peru, which will bring electricity to the village that sits at 13,300 feet in the Andes Mountains.

The 75 families living in the village put electricity high on their list of priorities for services needed. “The community wants lights in their houses and power to the school so the kids can learn something about computers,” explains Curt Nelson, EWB-WWU club sponsor and professor of engineering. “The parents in Japora realize that their kids will have a really hard time if they move out of the village and don’t know anything about computers.”

WWU engineers are making plans for a microhydropower system that will harness power from a nearby stream. “Our goal is to complete the project this summer,” says Nelson. “It’s a pretty ambitious project.” The EWB-WWU team will travel to Japora in March during spring break to take final measurements and work out other questions before returning to start developing the power system this summer.

The community of Japora will provide 5 percent of the cost of the electrical system. EWB-WWU has a total fundraising goal of $60,000. The spring fundraising gala raised $23,321.34 in one night.

EWB-USA is a nonprofit international organization founded in 2000 that includes 100 professional chapters, more than 220 student chapters and a growing membership of more than 12,000. Their mission is to assist developing communities worldwide with their self-identified engineering challenges and to train internationally responsible engineering students.

To learn more about the Japora project, visit or call Curt Nelson at 509-527-2076.