UT Engineers Without Borders to host annual Building Bridges 5K

March 26, 2014 | Events, UToday, Engineering
By Aimee Portala

The University of Toledo chapter of Engineers Without Borders will host its annual Building Bridges 5K Saturday, April 12, to raise money for a project in Los Sanchez, Honduras.

engineers without borders 5KThe Building Bridges 5K will be at 9 a.m. beginning at the UT Student Recreation Center.

Registration is $16 prior to Saturday, March 29, when the fee will increase to $20. Register here.

The organization is hoping to have 200 participants this year, an increase over last year’s 114.

Engineers Without Borders partnered with the community of Los Sanchez, Honduras, in 2008 to find a sustainable solution to the lack of access to potable water. After implementing a water distribution system in 2009, the people of Los Sanchez approached the organization about building a pedestrian bridge across the river, Rio Buscaga.

Rio Buscagua separates Los Sanchez, a rural community of about 200 to 250 people, and other small communities in the area from the nearby town of Orocuina. This separation can be life-threatening during the rainy season. The inability to cross the river severs access to doctors, hospitals, markets, sources of employment and schools. Community members believe that year-round access to Orocuina is vital and would have a substantial effect on their growth.

“The people of Los Sanchez are very hard-working,” said Lisa Kingsolver, chemical and environmental engineering student and president of the UT Engineers Without Borders chapter. “The people are very community-minded. They know what’s best for them, and they want to make sure they reach their shared goals.”

The bridge team submitted a design proposal to Engineers Without Borders USA in December 2012. On its implementation trip to Los Sanchez in August, the travel team and members of the community agreed that the bridge would need to be redesigned.

The team consulted with the Los Sanchez community, the town of Orocuina, faculty and technical advisers to rework the design and submitted a new proposal to to Engineers Without Borders USA in February. The team is anticipating approval soon, pending a few minor changes to the design and construction plan, and hopes to implement the new bridge design this summer.

“We have had several meetings with community leadership. They are very opinionated, but very respectful,” Kingsolver said.

More than $14,000 has been raised toward the goal of at least $30,000 through grants, corporate partnerships, individual donors and proceeds from the Building Bridges 5K. The project was awarded major grants from Henkel, a manufacturing company, and the Association for Bridge Construction and Design.

For more information on the run or to make a donation, contact Kingsolver at lisa.kingsolver@rockets.utoledo.edu.

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