Spotlight on Engineers Without Borders – Bridges to Prosperity

The Engineers Without Borders – Bridges to Prosperity (EWB-B2P) organization, with the success and completion of its pedestrian foot bridge in Los Gomez in March of 2013, is returning back to Los Gomez to complete a water project.

“We had originally worked with the community of Los Gomez by designing and constructing a pedestrian footbridge with them (completed March of 2013),” Taylor Polodna, the chapter president, said.

According to Polodna, the Los Gomez Water Project was initiated after receiving a request from the community approximately a year and a half ago.

“They requested that we look into a water development project in their community,” he said. “The majority of the community does not have easy access to water and none of the community has access to clean water.”

The Los Gomez Water Project was started with a technical assessment trip last fall and a planned social survey trip this month.

However, this is not the only project the organization is working on. During the implementation of the Las Trancas Bridge Project in La Conquista, Nicaragua, another project came to their attention.

“The Los Encuentros Bridge Project is happening because while working in La Conquista we were approached by the community of Los Encuentros (along with a Bridges to Prosperity representative) and asked to visit their community,” Polodna said.  “Their need for a bridge was quite obvious given their 60 meter wide channel that floods upwards of 3 meters during the rainy season.”

Moving giant rock!

According to Polodna, the club has generally only received positive feedback from the communities they have worked with to date, bringing good feelings about the upcoming projects.

“It is not to say that our work is by any means perfect,” he said. “Quantitatively, we know that our past projects are being utilized and have made a difference, but we can never be certain that the impact we have is entirely positive. It is possible that an upset community member will not reach out against our organization for a variety of financial and social reasons and therefore we can never be 100% certain that the work we do is all good.”

In order to complete these projects, funding is crucial and generally provided by different people and groups.

“Funding is provided by numerous private donors as well as corporate sponsors (as well as some Mines funding),” Polodna said. “We have a team committed to raising funds for these projects through on-campus fundraisers (Say Cheese and the Spring Silent Auction), private donor solicitation, corporate solicitation, and grant writing.”

Apart from funding, the organization also relies on the technical abilities of Mines students.

“Our organization offers a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded students and build strong foundational relationships. The experiences you gain with EWB-B2P will encourage a holistic approach in the projects you take on and teach you valuable project management skills,” he said. “If you have the opportunity to travel with the team, you will be exposed to an entirely new cultural experience with a dynamic set of challenges, nothing like those you encounter at Mines.”

According to Polodna, the organization gives prospective engineers an idea of their capacity to positively impact the world around them with their engineering skills.

“It gives students an idea what it means to be a global engineer,” he said. “A global engineer is loosely defined as an engineer that utilizes their engineering background to provide solutions and ideas to solving problems in global communities. A global engineer is well versed in the challenges, difficulties, and failures of development work and strives to circumvent them and not cause any additional harm.”

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