Environmental engineering students work in India for better water

A group of Yale students working with an Indian scientist in Hyderabad.

The humanitarian trips that students in Professor Jaehong Kim’s course “Environmental Technology in the Developing World” take each spring break have become an established tradition at Yale. For the most recent trip, there were a few new twists.

After a few years of traveling to Nicaragua, the course brought students for the first time to India. There, they worked with a for-profit company — another first for the class. Kim, the seven students, and two teaching assistants worked with Water Health International (WHI), based in Hyderabad, India. The company operates small-scale community water treatment systems and sells treated water to consumers, who cart away water in jars for a small fee.

It is a great humanitarian operation, but they still make money,” said Kim, professor and chair of the Department Chemical and Environmental Engineering. “It’s a very interesting and eye-opening experience to see such an operation, not only for me, but for the students. They learn that environmental engineering is, of course, about helping people, but it also has a business component to it as well.”