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Rural isolation, or the inability to access essential resources such as hospitals, schools, and markets due to geographic barriers, directly contributes to global poverty. The mission of the Engineers in Action (EIA) Bridge Program and our University Chapter is to help these rurally isolated communities gain access to these essential resources with sustainable infrastructure by harnessing local expertise and global partnerships. In addition to the physical bridges, we hope to inspire members of the community to continue building connections with neighboring communities.
The Cornell University Chapter of Engineers in Action is a student-run project team with the College of Engineering that works with the non-for-profit organization Engineers in Action to design and build pedestrian footbridges for rurally isolated communities.
Imagine starting every morning with a trek to central campus. Now imagine that same walk without bridges connecting North and South Campus to Central. Your daily commute would either double or become incredibly dangerous. This is the reality for many members of rural communities worldwide. Our team strives to impact communities in need by bridging gaps in education, healthcare, and safety through physical bridges. Each bridge our team builds makes a tangible difference in a community and increases equity across the world.
Before the summer of 2019, the community of Mdlasomi in the Manzini region of the Kingdom of Eswatini had seen the deaths of 17 people attempting to cross the Ngwempisi river. Of these deaths, several were young children attempting to get to school. Impassioned by these events, the community sought out and committed to working with EIA and the government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to build a bridge that will mitigate the risk associated with performing these simple daily tasks. For 8 weeks, the Cornell Team successfully designed and built a 95-meter suspended cable bridge across the Ngwempisi River with the community of Mdlasomi.
After two years of not being able to travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our team finally completed another bridge in Summer 2022. Over these two years, we continued learning and designing bridges, and this past summer, our team sent 5 students to the Kingdom of Eswatini, where they spent 6 weeks turning designs into reality. The team worked with the Boyanne and Zombodze communities to build a 100 meter footbridge that crosses the Mtilane River, which will help over 2,000 people including 1,200 schoolchildren cross the river safely.
We plan to send another team abroad during Summer 2023 to either Bolivia or Eswatini. While our site is not definitive yet, we are working hard to learn the foundations of bridge building and gain cultural awareness. The team cannot wait to move forward with this year's project, and it would not be possible without donors like you.
All the little things
Covers the cost of the beautiful colors of the suspension bridge
Covers the cost of Personal Protective Equipment for one traveler
Covers the cost of one suspension cable
Covers the food expenses for one traveler
Covers the living expenses for one traveler
Covers the cost of travel for one traveler