Engineering students build school for 250 Ghanaian children

Engineers Without Borders is a student organization that takes on projects to help communities that may need structural fixtures but cannot afford them.

Their current project is the construction of a school for 250 children in Ghana and providing free public education, according to Brian Rivers, a sophomore civil engineering major that has traveled to Ghana with the group.

The group has already taken two trips to work on the school.  The site is cleared and the foundation has been set.

Joe Miller, fifth-year environmental engineer major, was the project leader for the January trip and was primarily responsible for the successful completion on the implementation trip.

Miller said as the project leader he prepared the team for travel, contacted groups in Ghana that would be helping with construction, assigned duties and made sure all phases were completed on time.

Allison Hofer, junior electrical engineer major and chapter president, said the trip helps engineering majors get field experience.

“Not a lot of engineer (majors) have field experience,”  Hofer said. “You are learning to make on-the-spot decisions and at the same time knowing you are helping people who need it.”

Hofer said their next trip is scheduled for August, and they need to raise approximately $10,000.

Engineers Without Borders will hold several fundraisers to raise this money. A Pizza Hut buffet dinner was held March 18.

The next fundraiser is a midnight showing of Jurassic Park in 3-D at Millennium Cinema on April 4.  The cost is $15 and includes the ticket, popcorn, soda and 3-D glasses.

Tickets must be purchased in advance and can be bought from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday in the MPSC through April 4.

A 5K Color Me Green Run is another fundraiser being held at 8 a.m. April 20.   Hofer said that the cost is $15 per person, but with groups of 10 or more, the cost is dropped to $10 per person.  Pre-registration will be held in the MPSC from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday starting April 2.

Besides the fundraisers, people can donate to Engineers Without Borders through a University of Wisconsin-Platteville Foundation account.

For the students within the organization, their project is more than building a school, Rivers said.

“One thing I never saw coming was the worldly viewpoint and seeing how people live in the Ghana culture, where they live with so little but are happy with what they have,” Rivers said.

The group has traveled to Ghana for other service projects.  Some of these projects have included constructing a culvert, paving a driveway and constructing a footbridge.

Anyone can get involved with Engineers Without Borders, regardless of their major.  General meetings are held every other Tuesday from 6:30-8 p.m. starting on April 2.