Engineers Without Borders chapter at UW-Platteville makes impact in rural Ghana

November 14, 2013

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Engineers Without Borders

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. —The Engineers Without Borders chapter at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is preparing to return to Ghana, Africa, next month to continue construction on their largest project to date — the NAVA Primary School, a four-building complex that, once complete, will likely serve 250 students. The chapter is sponsoring a Trivia Night fund raiser Monday, Nov. 18 from 7-10 p.m. at Steve’s Pizza Palace, at 175 W. Main St. in Platteville. The event is $4 for UW-Platteville students and $8 for the public. Proceeds from the event will help to purchase construction materials for the primary school. Pre-registration is not required.

The Engineers Without Borders chapter at UW-Platteville, which consists of approximately 50 members, is one of more than 300 chapters nationwide working in 46 countries. “Our goal is to partner with communities and provide sustainable engineering solutions,” said Allison Hofer, a senior electrical engineering major from Hartland, Wis., and president of the Engineers Without Borders UW-Platteville chapter. “We want to eventually work ourselves out of the job, so when we leave they can continue sustainable solutions on their own.”

At the end of December, seven students, along with Bob Steckel, a professional structural engineer and liaison to the chapter, will travel to Ghana for approximately three weeks to continue construction of the school, which will serve students in grades kindergarten through sixth.

The group broke ground on the project during an August 2012 trip, and continued work on a subsequent visit in January. During the upcoming trip, they hope to construct half of the walls on all four buildings, as well as train more community members, enabling them to continue work on the remaining walls once the UW-Platteville students leave. Hofer said that the goal is to complete the facility either in August 2014 or January 2015, at which time the building will be integrated into the public school system, making it accessible for children of four surrounding villages — Nsumia, Ahiabu, Vudu and Akeokope.

The UW-Platteville chapter has partnered with several villages in rural Ghana since its inception in 2007. “It was incredible to see all of the past work the chapter has done there,” said Hofer, reflecting on her August 2012 trip to Ghana.

One of the past projects was the 2009 construction of a 50-foot pedestrian bridge in the village of Gidi. During the rainy season in Ghana, a stream running through Gidi often swells to a depth of 3 to 4 feet, making it impassible for residents. This restricted people in the village from being able to access the train station for several weeks every year — rendering adults unable to attend jobs and children unable to attend school. The Engineers Without Borders UW-Platteville chapter completed the construction of the pedestrian bridge in 10 days.  

For more information on the Engineers Without Borders chapter at UW-Platteville visit the website at http://uwplattewb.org.

Contact: Allison Hofer, Engineers Without Borders, UW-Platteville chapter, hofera@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Alison Parkins, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1526, parkinsal@uwplatt.edu

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