Wash U. students help blind students in Ethiopia

10:42 PM, Nov 22, 2011   |    comments
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By Mike Bush

St. Louis (KSDK) - The smartest people sometimes think with their hearts.

Not everyone can make the grade at Washington University, but senior Todd Coady is well on his way to a degree in mechanical engineering.

"It's a problem solvers job," he said.

It's one thing to solve problems in a text book, but it's something else entirely to solve a problem half a world away.

"If you understand the story, there is no way you can turn the other way," said Coady.

As part of the St. Louis Chapter of Engineers without Borders, Coady and his classmates are getting ready to travel to northern Ethiopia to help build a new water tower at a school for the blind.

"They don't have any method to store the water from the well because their current tower is about to collapse," said chemical engineering junior Jennifer Head.

For this project, instead of Calculus Two, the curriculum includes mixing concrete.

"I can't teach them over there. They have to know before they go," said Research Associate John Murphy. "And it has to be mixed in certain proportions and it has to have a certain consistency."

This group made a research trip to Ethiopia earlier this year, and while they'll be traveling thousands of miles again, the mission now hits close to home.

"Their need is so extreme so it's kind of heartbreaking to see that but at the same time, it's really heartwarming to see the amount of love and support they have for us," said Head.

Todd Coady's passion has become everyone else's purpose

"Oh, he's something else. He really is," said Murphy.

"Clearly when he talks, he really loves these children. And we could really see that," said Head.

There are still plans to be made and money to be raised to complete this project, but in the end, this is only the beginning.

"Ultimately, I'd like to give a little back to the world with my engineering career," said Coady. "If this is the start of that, it's a great place to start."

With a little compassion it seems, great minds can accomplish great things.

For more information on the project, click here.


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