Mines students to build distillation unit for Zambian widows

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Mines students to build distillation unit for Zambian widows

GOLDEN, Colo., Oct. 6, 2008 – Colorado School of Mines freshman enrolled in the Engineering Practices Introductory Course Sequence class, or EPICS, will revamp distillation units used by widows in rural villages of Zambia. Through a partnership with The Zambian Soap Company, a boulder-based organics company, widows in Zambia are employed to work in the distillation of essential oils that are later used by local artisans to make soap.

EPICS students will build a prototype of a still and at the end of the course, the team who builds the best still relative to workers' needs will have their designs used by The Zambian Soap Company in production of essential oils in Zambia. Currently, students are raising funds through the sale of finished soap products to send the winning team to Zambia to build their prototype for a local village.

While this project represents a great opportunity for Mines students to gain real life engineering experience, it also represents a chance at a better life for many desperate widows in Zambia . One of the few moneymaking options for single, landless women in rural Zambia is distilling Kachaso, a type of moonshine made from corn mash. This practice not only damages local food security by competing for the corn crop, but women involved in the distillation process are socially ostracized and vulnerable to abuse. By adapting the equipment used by these women to product essential oils instead of alcohol, Mines students will give these women and their families a chance at a more sustainable lifestyle.

“We are so excited about Mines students' contribution to this project,” said Andre Houssney, Zambian Soap Company founder. “It's such a great thing to see students working on real-world problems while honing their design and engineering skills. The EPICS students will have so much to look back on; their semesters' work will be making a difference long after they have graduated.”

About The Zambian Soap Company:

The Zambian Soap Company began with the vision to empower Africans to lift themselves out of poverty through small-scale development and local initiatives. Today, local Zambian workers support themselves through the production of organically made soap and other items that are sold through the Zambian Soap Company. Zambian soap is naturally made, organically grown and authentically African.

For more information on The Zambian Soap Company and their efforts to help the local peoples of Zambia develop a sustainable lifestyle, visit www.zambiansoap.com.

Founded in 1874, Colorado School of Mines was established to serve the needs of the local mining industry. Today, the School has an international reputation for excellence in both engineering education and the applied sciences with special expertise in the development and stewardship of the Earth's resources.


Monica Kremer, 720-849-0795
Sambah Naturals

Karen Gilbert, 303-273-3541
Colorado School of Mines

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