There are not many organizations on campus that allow students to apply both their technical skill-set and their desire to engineer change. Mines Without Borders (MWB) challenges its members to design sustainable engineering projects in collaboration with communities in Nicaragua.
With the support of MWB’s partners Engineers Without Borders, Bridges to Prosperity, and the Colorado School of Mines Humanitarian Engineering Program, the club is gearing up for an exciting year with two of its projects moving into the implementation stage.
The Water Project team has been working to design a gravity-fed water distribution system that will provide a community in Los Gomez, Nicaragua with year-round access to clean water.
“We are at the point in the Water Project where implementation of the water distribution system is about to begin and that is a huge step forward in the project,” explained Cassidy Grady, co-lead of The Water Project.
As with many international projects, the team is preparing for the variety of challenges it may face during implementation in October.
Grady stated, “There’s no telling what sorts of issues we may run into, but, from the way things have gone so far, I’m confident that the community and MWB team will be able to adapt and deal with any adversity we face.”
The Bridge Project team, led by Evan Scarborough and Rachel Chaggaris, is planning to start construction this winter in the community of San Juan.
Scarborough explained, “These people live in a divided community. By building a bridge, we’re giving them access to medicine and schools and all sorts of resources they need.”
The bridge team completed its first project, the Ochomogo Bridge, in Spring of 2013. The San Juan Bridge will be the fourth bridge MWB has completed. Each project required multiple trips to the project site for technical and social surveys before implementation.
Even if students have not heard about MWB’s bridges or water systems, they may know the organization from its grilled cheese fundraisers. The club holds many fundraising events throughout the year including a campus-wide favorite, the “Say Cheese” event. MWB members set up griddles on Stratton Commons and sell $1 grilled cheese sandwiches. They even deliver them to any building on campus.
The club also offers opportunities for its members to connect with students of different backgrounds with similar passions. It is a club that humbles its members and teaches them the importance of considering the needs of the community.
Grady expressed, “This kind of experience pushes undergraduate students to broaden their minds about the way sustainable community development should be approached and how to make sure that the development we are undertaking is necessary and desired by those who are impacted by it.”