Stevens Institute of Technology: Drew Capone '13 featured on Cablevision Newscast





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Published on Sep 5, 2012

This summer, Stevens student Drew Capone opted for waste and toxins over sand and surf -- and he touched the lives of almost 50 families in the process.

Capone, a rising senior, traveled to Guatemala City for a week in July to distribute homemade water filters to the squatting community situated on the edges of a dangerous 40-acre garbage dump in the center of the nation's capital, where thousands of the Latin America's most at-risk inhabitants live and work.

"I really felt like it was my calling to do this water filtration project for the people of Guatemala City," Capone said.

Capone travelled to Guatemala City previously on a separate church mission trip about two years ago. At the time, he collaborated with a nonprofit organization called Beyond the Walls, which is dedicated to improving the lives of the world's poor and disadvantaged.

"I went to change the lives of others, but in the end that trip changed my life," Capone said.

Soon after, Capone -- just a freshman at the time -- started doing water filtration research alongside Stevens Environmental Engineering Professor Xiaoguang Meng. Two years later, armed with an arsenal of engineering skills and knowledge, he returned to Guatemala City this summer with 55 others from his church, Hoboken Grace Community Church, and other churches in New Jersey and Virginia. Working once again with Beyond the Walls, five of Capone's traveling companions were Stevens students or recent Stevens graduates.

Water filters are vital possessions for the poverty-stricken residents in the heavily-populated area surrounding the Guatemala City landfill, who suffer from extremely poor sanitation conditions. Water-related disease causes the deaths of more than three million people worldwide each year, and millions more are hospitalized by illnesses brought on by limited access to safe drinking water.

A Chemical Engineering major, Capone built the water filters himself on his kitchen table, often with the help of his Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers, who also volunteered their time by organizing fundraisers to pay for production costs.

Using a design originally developed by Meng, the filters were produced for only $14.50 each and consisted of easily-obtained materials like plastic buckets, cloth, spigots, o-rings, and activated carbon.

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