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Now That’s a Class Project!

Students Build Peruvian Clinic

Julianne Rhoads enjoyed collaborating with many people – including these young Peruvians – to successfully construct an energy-efficient medical clinic high in the mountains.

By Sheila Eppolito

When energy engineering students Julianne Rhoads, Adam Kutrich and Rafael Castro put their minds together, the result is astounding. In the Peruvian mountains in the village of Huanchay, they used their designs and helped construct a medical clinic that uses green technologies to maintain livable temperatures.

Rhoads, Kutrich and Castro worked for 12 days – at an elevation of more than 8,500 feet – to build the 600-square-foot facility. The team used local sources - the walls and floor are made of adobe bricks, beams were cut from fallen eucalyptus trees, the roof is corrugated metal and the insulation will be made from straw bales.

The construction is part of a medical clinic called Casa Solar Maternidad that services the surrounding community, and will be used to house expectant mothers while they are awaiting and recovering from delivery, and for infirm elderly patients.

“The clinic presented a chance to put our classroom learning into action immediately,” says Castro, who grew up in Peru. He joined the others in the effort as part of Mechanical Engineering Prof. John Duffy’s Village Empowerment program.

For Rhodes, overcoming construction challenges presented by the remote site was one of the more valuable parts of the project.

“In Huanchay, you can't simply go to Home Depot for a two by four! We relied on local workers, the kindness of the staff from a neighboring clinic, the support of the local governor, and even help from the children to get the work done,” she says. 

Rhodes and Kutrich designed the building as part of their master’s theses in renewable energy engineering.

Clinic in Peruvian Mountains
Rhoads and Kutrich survey the foggy construction site.