Building bridges for better communities

volunteers in safety gear working on bridge
Locally-trained masons led team and community during the construction process

Last month, I traveled to a remote community in eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland) to work as a mentor with Colorado University-Boulder’s Engineers in Action (EIA) Club. The goal of the group is to help remote communities in Bolivia and eSwatini gain access to health care, markets, and education during the rainy season through the design and construction of pedestrian footbridges.

This year, the team worked closely with the communities of Mathangeni and Mgululu to construct a much-needed pedestrian footbridge, which would allow several hundred students to make it to school during the rainy season. My access to a Mead & Hunt Cares grant was invaluable in helping complete the project.

children in uniforms with book bags crossing new bridge
Children crossing the now constructed bridge

The University students worked with EIA throughout the school year to find a site that was both technically and socially feasible. Following the selection of the site, the students designed the bridge using EIA’s standards and guidance from the engineer of record. At the end of the school year, the students traveled to the site, where they lived in a host house and worked with community members and locally trained masons to build the bridge.

Towards the end of the project, I traveled to the community of Mathangeni to help the team as a Bridge Corps member. While there, I helped to install bridge decking, fencing, and moved countless buckets of rocks and concrete to finish the approach ramps. After many weeks of tough work, I am happy to report that we finished the bridge! The final push was a tough one, but the team and community persevered to get the job done. It was difficult to leave this wonderful place and all the people I met, but I’m happy to have played my small part in providing a safe river crossing for two amazing communities.

Devon Baummer

About the Author

Devon Baummer is a civil engineer in the Aviation department out of Mead & Hunt’s Denver office. His duties include drafting in AutoCAD Civil 3D, construction inspection, and cost estimating. Devon is passionate about applying his professional skills to help elevate communities near and far.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *