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BYU student engineers build human-powered drill for clean water in developing nations

The contraption looks like a spear that impaled a wheel of fortune, but it does more than give contestants a chance to buy a vowel or solve the puzzle. The device is actually a human-powered drill built by a team of BYU engineering students, who hope it will help Tanzanians drill the 250 feet required to access clean drinking water.

Other water-drilling alternatives in the region either can’t dig deep enough or cost too much, sometimes upwards of $15,000. But the team’s device has the potential to drill a 150- to 250-foot-deep hole in a matter of days—all for about $2,000.

The drill was created for a year-long engineering capstone project that has students solving real engineering problems with real clients. The team created the drill for WHOLives.org, a nonprofit dedicated to providing clean water, better health and more opportunities to people living in impoverished communities. The organization is currently focusing its drilling efforts on Tanzania, but it has plans to expand its operations to other countries. The project is also co-sponsored by the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology.

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