Young environmental engineer strives to make a difference.

Rebecca Moore is determined to make a difference.

Inspired by her time studying abroad in Mexico and helping design a playground-powered water filtration system for a grade school in rural Peru, Moore, an environmental engineering student, will volunteer with the Peace Corps after graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this month.

“We’re so privileged here in the United States, we sort of lose sight of the basic necessities of life that so many people around the world don’t have,” she says. “We all need to do our part to help improve the situation, lead by example, and inspire other people to get involved.”

Moore spent half of her junior year studying at the Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico, through the Global Engineering Education Exchange, or Global E3, program. “My experience in Mexico opened me up to a completely different world,” Moore says. “It made me realize how little I know about the world and how much I want to see and learn from other cultures.”

While at the Instituto Technologocio, Moore learned about a civil engineering project to design a water filtration system for a small rural community near Monterrey that lacked running water. Instituto students contributed to the design of a water filter that would allow residents to remove contaminants and toxins from well water.

Moore’s time in Mexico, and her exposure to this project, opened her eyes not only to the importance of learning about and experiencing other cultures, but also to the critical need of using one’s talents and abilities to help better the living situations of those in need, she says. After returning to Rensselaer, Moore took inspiration from the Instituto water project, and as an independent study, helped design a new type of water pump and purification system for a small school in Cusco, Peru. The system used playground equipment, such as a seesaw or merry-go-round, to pump water from the ground into the school. The water then would be sterilized, filtered, and ready for use in the school.

The project was led by Lupita Montoya, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rensselaer.

Moore hails from Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. After graduation, she will embark on a two-year assignment as a water resources engineer with the Peace Corps, at a to-be-determined location in Central America.