The Minnesota Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-MN) is thrilled to announce they have completed the Aldea Patzac school project in rural Guatemala. The all-volunteer project team designed, fundraised, and supported construction of a new school, replacing the community’s former structure which they had outgrown and had been adversely impacted by decades of seismic activity and erosion. The new school features three classrooms, a kitchen, new bathrooms, a new retaining wall to stabilize a critical eroding slope, and better accommodations for all 60 elementary-aged students in the growing community.

“I am tremendously proud of the team and the work that went into completing the Aldea Patzac school project,” says Jake Hexum, Chapter President. “We have such a phenomenal group of volunteers; I can’t wait to tackle more projects and help those who need it most.”

EWB-MN is eager to keep the momentum on both local and international projects. Internationally, the chapter has two concurrent projects: one in Chuchurras, Peru and the other in Rio Azul, Guatemala. In Peru, the group is engineering and fundraising for a solar powered water project that will provide a year-round source of clean and reliable water for a 500-person rural community. The community currently collects unclean water manually from local streams and rivers, with an often-scarce supply during the 3-month dry season. And in Rio Azul, a 2,000-person rural community lacks a building dedicated to secondary education. To help, the group is engineering and fundraising for a school complex that will feature seven classrooms, two admin rooms, a kitchen, restrooms, and an athletic court.  The group expects to begin construction on both projects this fall with Chuchurras already underway.

The chapter is also proud of their local work in the Twin Cities community. Most recently, the team completed energy audits for Beacon Interfaith, assessing and collecting data through utility bills and site walks. After one year, recommendations were provided to the Beacon Interfaith property management teams for review. The team is also supporting the Division of Indian Work. The group has three building upgrades that our team will support by completing a solar panel array assessment, water catchment system design, and compositing integration. These efforts will support building efficiency and their community garden. These two impactful projects have given both Beacon Interfaith Housing and Division of Indian Work actionable ways to reduce their carbon footprint, be more sustainable, and utilize more cost-effective systems

The work conducted by EWB-MN is completed by volunteers and fully funded by gracious donors. The team is thankful for the generous contributions and partnership provided by Minnesota-based engineering firms Westwood Professional Services, Barr Engineering Co., and Bolton & Menk.  These partner organizations don’t just donate to a great cause; it is their very people that work shoulder-to-shoulder to engineer and construct impactful solutions for communities in need.  In addition to the chapter’s corporate partners, the group is grateful for the support provided by many local Rotary clubs, including the Minneapolis City of Lakes and Buffalo Rotary clubs which helped the group obtain grants to support both the Aldea Patzac and Rio Azul projects.

As 2022 nears, the chapter has their sights set and fundraising efforts focused on preexisting local projects and two new international projects. The new international projects will focus on a structural project in Uganda and a water project in Guatemala.

“With passionate volunteers, partnership support, and dedicated leadership, the Minnesota Professional Chapter of Engineer Without Boarders is excited for what’s next,” says Matt Wessale, Vice President of International Projects.

If you would like to support EWB-MN, you can donate or contact them directly.

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