Getting dirty for a good cause

Technews Writer
Sun Oct 16, 2011
On Friday, 29 students, faculty, and staff teamed up to clean the 31st Street Beach as part of the IIT Engineering Theme: Water.

At the day of service, the team combed the beach for litter and tested water samples for bacteria and contaminants. Testing for bacteria takes two days of incubation and strong attention to detail to avoid contaminating the samples. With the help of three student team leaders, Professor Paul Anderson (CAEE) documented the process and will post the results and pictures at the themes website this week. Check out the results at

The Water volunteers will also report the results as part of a national data collection effort with the Alliance for the Great Lakes. According to the Alliance, the Great Lakes contain nearly 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, providing drinking water to more than 40 million people. Threats to the Great Lakes range from pollution and invasive species to wasteful water use and global warming.

The IIT Engineering Theme Water is taking a hands-on approach to all of these issues, helping IIT students gain experience and work to solve the problems at the same time. If you missed this chance to volunteer, the Engineering Themes will host another beach cleanup in the spring. Here are a few highlights from the day:

Found most at the beach: Styrofoam, glass bottles, cigarette butts, plastic bags, and fast food wrappers.

Grossest find: a dead fish!

Total litter removed: more than 50lbs.

Most collected: Engineering staff member Lisa Stok – nearly 10lbs of trash. Nice job Lisa!

Quote of the day: “It’s good to see IIT helping the environment and the community,” Chris Schaffer, mechanical and aerospace engineering undergrad.

Thanks again to everyone who helped out. The next theme sponsored trip will be to The Plant, Chicago’s first vertical farm, on Thursday, October 27. For more information, visit the themes website or stop by Perlstein Hall Auditorium at 1 p.m. Monday, October 17 for a presentation about The Plant, sponsored by the IIT student group Engineers for a Sustainable World.