About Us: The MSOE Student Chapter of EWB-USA
Engineers Without Borders—MSOE Student Chapter works closely with the EWB-Guatemala Chapter to find and execute projects that the community puts forth. This is a student-led organization that works throughout the school year to curate a design that is then reviewed by professional engineers. MSOE’s school year is split into three quarters which allows for us to have a one-year turnaround for each project we do. We work closely with the communities in the town of Joyabaj, Guatemala in which we currently have three active projects.
About the Project: 2022-2023 Alcona Bridge
The community of Alcona in Joyabaj, Guatemala presented the Alcona Bridge Project to us at the beginning of 2022. During Guatemala’s rainy season, flash floods are very common and can create a dangerous environment for those who come across it. The importance of this project was illustrated when the worst fear was realized. One day, a mother was crossing the river with her two children. One of the children, a three-year-old, lost their shoe in the river and was reaching for it when suddenly a flash flood came through. In an instant, the child was swept away in the rough current, leaving the mother and sibling distraught and confused. The family and community were devastated by this event and proposed a permanent change so this wouldn't happen to another family. This bridge will allow members of the community to cross the river safely by foot.
Additionally, since this river separates about half of the Alcona community from services such as a health center, school and market, this bridge will allow trucks to pass through connecting all members of this community with these essential services.
This project has been planned, designed and is now in the construction phase. The 30-ft span vehicular concrete girder bridge will service 3,000 families in Alcona and surrounding communities. The Cocode, a group of community leaders, is working with EWB-MSOE to complete the bridge project. Usually, the Cocode is traditionally male, especially in the rural communities of Guatemala. Recently, they have elected two female officers, this is a big step for the community since both the men and women have different experiences that can now be brought into the conversation. The common role that a woman plays in a Guatemalan household is gathering food and water while taking care of the house and children while the man finds work to support his family. The women Cocode members bring voice to the various aspects of the project that the men do not have much experience in, overall adding depth to EWB’s future project evaluation.
About Crowdfunding: Our Generous Donors
The total cost of the project is expected to be $50,000. The Municipality of Joyabaj and the community of Alcona are required to pay their portion and supply laborers for the construction. This leaves our organization responsible for $35,000, which is fundraised for by various EWB-MSOE events including this crowdfunding campaign. Our donors have continued to support EWB-MSOE for their servant-based work in which we greatly appreciate. Our mission is only possible through the students of MSOE, the various mentors that assist in the design, the members of the community we service and all of our generous donors.
Thank you for supporting our projects!
If you would prefer to give by check, please make it payable to Milwaukee School of Engineering with “Engineers Without Borders MSOE Chapter" in the memo and mail to:
Milwaukee School of Engineering, Office of University Advancement, Attn: Gift Processing, 1025 N Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202
About our Experiences
“EWB has been the single most rewarding organization I have ever been a part of. Since getting involved my freshman year I have tried to pour myself into it at every turn. The real effect and help we are doing for people is beyond anything I could be doing on my own. It has taught me so much in every aspect of my life. As an engineer, a humanitarian, and a person in general. There are few NGO’s that do development and humanitarian work correctly, and I believe that EWB is one of them.
This project has a special place in my heart as an engineering student interested in bridges specifically and as the project manager. Having traveled to the site, met the people, and conducted the assessment, I know the incredible effect this project will have on the community. Making sure this project is successful has been on my mind ever since I was elected to lead it. Seeing all the efforts the community, the rest of the chapter and our mentors have put into the project has been an incredible inspiration. Everyone’s level of care for this project makes it just that much more special. It has been the most rewarding and meaningful experience I can imagine.
Getting to work with the local office in Guatemala has been so wonderful and educational and has taught me so much about how to conduct projects and increased my personal communication skills to an insane degree. Their ability and process are so impressive and can teach us as American engineers so much. - Weston Lema, Project Manager
“EWB has altered the course of my career and changed my life. It has formed my desire to help others into a sharp tool that can be used to make good in this world.” - Drew Esson, President
“Travelling to Guatemala has been one of the most eye-opening experiences that I have ever had. Living in a different culture for a week and interacting with the Guatemalans, makes the projects we have been working on have so much more meaning. Not only have I left an impact there with the work I’ve done, but they have left an impact on how I live my life.” - Leona Useni, Vice President