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With his column reporting on the work of engineers from UMass Lowell in Haiti (“Truly civil engineering,” Metro, May 19), Adrian Walker has touched on a significant transformation within American society.

Quietly but surely, through the confluence of social responsibility, ingenuity, and youthful energy, the profession of engineering is becoming a prime instrument of fundamental change for the world’s poor.

This is especially true of the application of engineering to agriculture. Students from American universities on internships, and organizations such as Engineers Without
Borders, are immersed in projects bringing clean water and energy to farms in Haiti, and are developing productive farming in India and Costa Rica using aquaponics, in which fish nutrients aid plants growing in water, after which the purified water is recycled to the fish.

These connections between engineering and agriculture are so powerful that they are becoming an important tool for people to lift themselves from poverty on a broad scale.

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It is a hopeful sign that students, many from our local colleges and universities, are in the forefront.

Robert Case
Boston

The writer is a professor of mathematics education at Northeastern University.