Along with the opportunities provided by the international office, student organizations also create opportunities for students to travel and gain valuable international perspective.
Over winter break, Mines Without Borders traveled to Nicaragua to build a pedestrian bridge for a local community.
The experience provided students with perspective to living conditions in Nicaragua and they also developed technical skills to complement their education at Mines.
Patrick Myers, a student that was part of the team in Nicaragua, said, “It was five students and two professional engineers. Each day we would go work on the bridge, and we made a deal with the local community that we would provide the food, and they would do the cooking.” He elaborated, “So each day we would come back and have dinner at one of the houses.”
Along with the rich cultural experience, Myers went on to explain the technical experience gained from the bridge’s construction in Nicaragua,.
“It gave a perspective on what real engineering can look like. You can try to make things as safe as possible, but at the end of the day, a lot of calculations were based off of intuition instead of the precise calculations that we do at school,” said Myers.
Myers went on to say, “We were doing a project that was real, there wasn’t access to the typical resources that we have become reliant on. There was no Internet, you had a manual, guidelines, and a professional engineer that you could ask questions.”
There is risk that all trained engineers tend to address problems from the same perspective and background.
Without engineers having diverse backgrounds and experiences, the best solution is often not implemented. Mines Without Borders aims not only to provide experience in the field as an engineering, but also time in a community for individuals to develop a sense of international perspective.
“Being in a different country helped a lot, it was not just an experience showing how engineering projects work; but this is how another part of the world works,” said Myers. “This is what they talk about, this is how they interact. You saw a lot more family ties, there was no technology. The whole experience gave a much better sense of world perspective,”