Student organization Red Knights for H2OPE combines engineering with social justice

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Ava Azadegan

There are sub-committees in Red Knights for H2OPE that work on different parts of the water purification system.

Anna McCloskey, Staff Writer

This Wednesday, BSM’s common basket collection will benefit Red Knights for H2OPE, a new organization within BSM to promote the school’s principles of social justice and innovation. These principles show through in the addition of this new program to the extracurricular selection. The program’s current project is to work to improve water purification systems in third world countries.

Established by engineering teacher Mr. Jon Hickman and theology teacher Mr. Joe Pedersen, the program currently stands at around 30 students who work to improve a complicated water-filtration system that has been implemented around the globe. “We’re trying to improve it because it’s a complicated system right now and we’re trying to make it better and easier to use for people with a third world education,” Mr. Pedersen said.

The program consists of separate teams, each of which is assigned to a specific element of the apparatus. “Mechanical engineering team, chemical engineering team, electrical engineering team, a team that’s working on creating a charcoal filter, a PR team, and a team that’s focused on prayer, praying for our project,” Mr. Pedersen said. Leaders have been elected for each team and science teachers Mr. Mark Lex and Mr. Ted Reiff will assist.

As a Catholic school so prolific in engineering, the project seems to be a perfect fit. “The main part at this point regarding social justice is that the students who are involved in this are recognizing that they have the ability to do this, the time and resources, that they really have a responsibility to do this,” Mr. Pedersen said.

By using skills they have learned here at BSM, students hope to improve the system, thereby changing the lives of those in third world countries such as Haiti, India, and parts of Africa. Eventually, the program hopes to expand. “Mr. Pedersen and I have a longer term vision that not for this coming fall but maybe by fall of 2014 we can actually offer regular curricular course in social justice engineering,” Mr. Hickman said.

The common basket collection will help to propel the group as they work for a real-world solution to the global water crisis. Theology and science teachers presented to their students last week on the importance of this mission to improve water purification systems.