August 06, 2010

Student engineers to assist Honduran community

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill -- A group of student engineers from Southern Illinois University Carbondale leave Saturday, Aug. 7, for Central America, where they will begin work on a waterway bridge in an effort to help the local community.

The SIUC Engineers Without Borders group is only about a year old, but is already having an impact at home and, now, abroad, said Lizette Chevalier, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering.

“Even though we were only established two semesters ago, EWB-SIUC has been very involved in SIUC activities,” said Chevalier, who will accompany the students on the trip. “We participated in Engineering Field Day, Expanding Your Horizons, held weekly hotdog sales, sold concessions, hosted study nights, and organized a golf scramble fund-raiser.

“This trip is an investment in a developing community that is in need and in the development of our engineering skills,” she said.

EWB-SIUC’s mission is to partner with disadvantaged communities to improve their residents’ quality of life. Members use environmentally sound and economically sustainable engineering and strive to become internationally responsible engineers.

This first project will take five people from SIUC to Pimienta Cortes in Honduras, where they will design and construct a bridge culvert.

Currently, a simple board allows residents to traverse the waterway where the previous bridge, destroyed by a hurricane, once stood, Chevalier said. The group will spend about a week on site, assessing the situation and sizing up the project, returning mid-August.

SIUC engineering students making the trip are:

• Lance Pennington, a senior in electrical engineering from Aurora

• Bryson Orr, a senior in mechanical engineering from Savoy

• Mallory McGuire, a senior in electrical engineering from Pittsburg

The group is working with Gateway Professional Partners EWB chapter, partnering with Grace Johnson, a civil engineer with Kaskaskia Engineering and an SIUC alumna who also will make the trip. Two students from the SIU Edwardsville campus, Damien Di Vittorio and Leslie Stallons, also are participating.

The group will later plan a return trip to finish the project.

The trip is funded by support from the SIUC College of Engineering. The Office of the Chancellor is also is contributing a gift to the group’s host, Raul Alfredo Ugarte Florentino.