Engineers Without Borders members help construct school buildings in Ghana

March 1, 2013

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PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Engineers Without Borders chapter traveled to Ghana, Africa, to complete footings, foundations and floors at two of four NAVA primary school buildings.

“This kind of volunteer work is unlike any other experience anyone can have,” said Joe Miller, a senior from Friendship, Wis. “Being a part of Engineers Without Borders is such a valuable experience.”

UW-Platteville’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders was founded in 2007.

Dr. Samuel Owusu-Ababio, civil engineering professor and Engineers Without Borders advisor, has many ties in Ghana, which has led to the group’s partnership with several rural villages. “This project started about three years ago when Dr. Sam met with four villages to see where the biggest need was,” said Adam Groshek, a senior from Stevens Point, Wis. “They needed a school, which we began planning and have worked on since.”

UW-Platteville students have completed the foundations and floors for the school, which will be able to accommodate 250 children from Nsumia, Ahiabu, Vudu and Akeokope villages when it is completed.

Engineers Without Borders’ mission is to support community-driven development programs worldwide by collaborating with local partners to design and implement sustainable engineering projects, while creating transformative experiences and responsible leaders.

Students Alana Helin, a sophomore environmental engineering major from Dodgeville, Wis.; Brian Rivers, a sophomore civil engineering major from Winona, Minn.; Frank Kaminski, a senior civil engineering major from Green Bay, Wis.; and Nathan Christian, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Watertown, Wis. also traveled to Ghana.

“We acquire our funding through many different avenues,” said Groshek. “Many of the Engineers Without Borders members work on helping write grant request letters in the hopes that a company will help offset the cost of things such as building materials.”

In November 2012, UW-Platteville’s Engineers Without Borders was awarded a $5,000 grant from the GPK Foundation of League City, Texas, for their efforts coinciding with the GPK Foundation’s mission to enrich the world by furthering science, education, health, justice, freedom and peace. The grant covered approximately half of the building material costs of the trip. Through brat sales on campus, fund-raising efforts with the Milwaukee Sportservice by selling concessions at Miller Park and personal donations, Engineers Without Borders UW-Platteville chapter was able to raise the rest of the cost. The travel, lodging and food amounted to over $20,000 and was funded out of the students and mentors pockets.

Joe Miller


“We found that the Engineers Without Borders-USA would match our donation,” said Dennis Cooley, assistant chancellor for University Advancement and executive director of the UW-Platteville Foundation. “My wife and I donate for the entrepreneurial spirit of it.” Cooley also donated on behalf of every UW-Platteville Advancement employee.

Engineers Without Borders also held a Building Bridges Dinner allowing the group’s alumni, past mentors and current students to network and share stories about past and current projects. With the success of the dinner, the group looks to hold similar dinners once a year.

“This volunteer work is directly related to professional work after college,” said Miller. “Some UW-Platteville alumni who are professional engineers are still involved with Engineers Without Borders.”

Adam Groshek


Ian McGregor, a 2012 UW-Platteville graduate accompanied the students as the cultural mentor in place of Owusu-Ababio who couldn’t make the trip. This was McGregor’s fourth trip to Ghana with UW-Platteville’s Engineers Without Borders.

Lance Dyzak, a 1999 UW-Platteville graduate also traveled with UW-Platteville’s Engineers Without Borders to Ghana, serving as the professional mentor, aiding in important structural decisions.

“Working in Ghana through Engineers Without Borders has helped shape me and the way I view developing countries,” said Groshek. “My entire college experience would be different if I hadn’t joined.”

Both Groshek and Miller plan to join professional Engineers Without Borders chapters after graduation to mentor students on future UW-Platteville trips.

Written by: Eileen McGuine, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194,


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