Water project represents Texas A&M at Smithsonian
Festival celebrates 150 years of land-grant universities
Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07
Aggies, including University President R. Bowen Loftin and a couple professors, are in Washington, D.C., this week for the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
The Texas A&M Water Project was selected to represent A&M at this year's festival. The project aims to provide water to millions of people around the world who don't have access to clean drinking water.
"The project is an interdisciplinary and creative response aimed at raising awareness of the local, domestic and international need for safe water," said one of the project leaders and civil engineering associate professor Bryan Boulanger.
Boulanger's team has been working with the Smithsonian since February to design a living exhibition to recreate a filter production facility on the National Mall, where the festival takes place.
"In an age where high technology is king, it is refreshing to see that Texas A&M is not opposed to finding low-tech solutions to major problems for those in need," said Ryan Davenport, senior interdisciplinary studies major, who attended the festival Thursday while he spends the summer in D.C. on an internship.
Davenport said ceramic water filters are extremely hands-on. Festival-goers get to help make filters at A&M's filter production facility on the National Mall.
"It just goes to show how easily our solutions can translate to impoverished communities," he said.
This year's Smithsonian Folklife Festival, held for two weeks each summer celebrates community-based cultural heritage, is honoring the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which established land-grant universities such as A&M.
"The 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act demonstrates how much of an impact this single piece of legislation had on our country," Davenport said. "Over the past 150 years, nearly 105 institutions have helped to drive innovation, education and industry."
Texas A&M especially has had a huge impact on Texas and the U.S., Davenport said. From the Borlaug Institute to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority facility, he said land-grant status has allowed A&M to distinguish itself as thought-leaders and civil servants.
"When you look at something like the Morrill Act, even 150 years after its signing into law, we still see the positive effects of the federal government’s monumental investment in higher education," Davenport said.