Project #41: rapid E. coli presence detector

Invention Coach:

Robert L. Read


In volunteering for Engineers Without Borders, we learned of the critical need to evaluate water for fecal contamination in remote field locations without laboratory-style equipment. Shortening the time to quantitatively measure fecal contamination would help in providing clean water to the developing world, and might even save lives in disaster relief situations.


Based on work begun by Anjan Contractor and many volunteers from the Greater Austin Chapter of Engineers without Borders, Robert L. Read form Public Invention led a team of EWB volunteers who constructed an open-source incubator that is fully battery powered. We always try to publish our work; this project is published in the Journal of Humanitarian Engineering. ( That work let us test water in the field, but still requires 48 hours.

Currently, with the help of Shreya (a public invention volunteer), a new volunteer, Public Invention has carried forward researching ways to reduce this time as much as possible, hopefully to within 8 hours. (Without EWB.)



Skills Needed

Ability to learn about micro-biology, basic micro-electronics, basic optics and microscopy. Probably use Arduino. Electronic circuits. Some basic making craft required.