The Northern Arizona University chapter of Engineers Without Borders is dedicated to providing sustainable solutions to basic human needs by partnering with developing international and domestic communities alike. This organization provides the individuals involved with deepened cultural understanding, opportunities to make a difference on global and local levels, and fosters the development of future professionals.

History of the Project:

This small fishing community once held an elementary school for about 20 children. In the past few years, the school stopped its lessons due to the lack of children. The entire community has seen the same effect with its general population. The school building and surrounding area has now become a sort of city center. In the school yard stands one newly implemented solar-powered desalination unit and water tower. In addition, the building is now the location of the community’s first computers. However, because of the community’s condition and isolated location, the computers are without power.

The Community:

Puerto Lobos is located about 120 miles south of Puerto Peñasco and is along the eastern coast of the Gulf of California. They were once a very strong fishing village in which their economy was dependent. The damming of the Colorado River has greatly affected their fishing, and Puerto Lobos can no longer support itself like it once could.

Before the desalination unit, the community relied on trucking in water from the nearest city about 90 minutes away. There are no paved roads, and just one small and humble market. There is no electricity. Just a few houses can afford solar power.


EWB-NAU has been working with Sun Pumps and the University of Sonora at Hermosillo (UNISON) to help this economically deprived community. We are not looking to overly disrupt the simplistic and humble nature of this community, but just to better their conditions with a little help. We are only providing what has been asked of people of Puerto Lobos. We also want to strengthen ties and trust with its members.

The Plan:

A site visit will be planned for this Spring Break in which a few EWB-NAU members and a professional mentor will work to install photovoltaics for the computers. Our members will collaborate with Sun Pumps for the technical design and installation. Their knowledge and experience with these types and scales of technology is invaluable. Sun Pumps also produces the right level of equipment for this off-the-grid community. The members and professors from UNISON will also work with the community to ensure they fully understand operation and maintenance. Also, we will make sure they have a local contact for upkeep assistance.

The Team:

Laura Langdon serves as the project lead and has visited the site twice. Jared Travis is the chapter president. Dr. Paul Trotta is our chapter advisor and has visited the site along with Laura, Jared, and Danielle Varnes. Matt Hamilton will be our technical project advisor from Sun Pumps. Dr. Rafael Cabanillas is an engineering professor and University of Sonora at Hermosillo and serves as the project lead and contact in Mexico.

Laura Langdon

Paul Trotta

Jared Travis

Matt Hamilton

Rafael Cabanillas

  1. Kent dice:

    Great project. This is a huge blessing to the people of Puerto Lobos.

  2. Isabel Saborith dice:

    Wow, this is great news! Great project.

  3. obson dice:

    Thanks for you comments Isabel…

  4. donald dice:

    this project had a great beggining. it was to provide electric power by solar heating of oil to boil water to run a large turbine generator. it was also for the generation of fresh solar distilled water. the hardware was generously supplied supplied, ..and local citizens volunteered for a large part of the required work. the distilled water component was functioning very well and being managed by a local citizen called chuy. the water was being sold for his sustenance. he was doing what maintenance he could do without replacement parts. he was selling the water for around two dollars a barrel. that was all the market could provide since a comercial water truck was providing it at that price. then chuy died and his son unofficially inherited the water business. his son, referred to as Loco, knew very little about the project, but continued to sell water for as long as it continued to produce water. the solar electric system was abandoned when i first learned of it. the hardware was in place, but no one around Puerto Lobos knew what to do with it. i was unable to locate anyone who had any authority over the project. this article has been helpful for me to learn the history of the project. i have learned a little bit about what happened to the money supplied and why the water system ceased to function. if anyone need to contact me, you have my permission to enquire via my email. or

  5. hectorn gortarez dice:

    las mejores playas de l mundo


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