Rural community members often live in a walking world. When the rivers swell, walks to school, work or visits to a doctor can become life threatening without a bridge to cross.
Those who survive on the least often do not have sufficient infrastructure servicing their communities. Safe and maintained trails and footbridges are necessary to live healthy and productive lives.
UN Millennium Development Goals
The United Nations developed eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to combat worldwide poverty. They include halving extreme poverty, providing universal primary education, and improving child and maternal health, among others.
Improving access through safe infrastructure improvement is interwoven with poverty reduction. Every effort to improve people’s lives relies on their ability to access services. This is particularly true in rural areas – the UN estimates that 70% of those who subsist on less than $1.25 a day live and work in rural areas.
Continental Crossings was formed in 2006 by a group of civil engineering students at the University of Iowa. These students aimed to combine academics with their desire to provide assistance to communities in the developing world, through an augmented senior design project. The 2006 team committed over two full semesters and 500 hours of work towards the completion of a bridge located in Peru.
The students were responsible for the design and erection of the bridge, guided by the non-profit organization Bridges to Prosperity (B2P). The team was responsible for on-site surveying, development of technical drawings, material selection, and the final construction plans. The bridge was constructed in 2007 by a local mason and community volunteers.
In the summer of 2010, a new group of students traveled to Zambia in southern Africa to assist in the construction of another bridge through B2P. The bridge was designed through collaboration between engineering students from the University of Iowa and from the University of Zambia.
During the summer of 2011, this same group of Iowa students successfully designed and implemented another bridge in Nicaragua, Central America. The team was comprised of five seniors in civil, environmental, and electrical engineering. They incorporated the bridge into their senior design project and were held accountable for all the before-mentioned design components.
A new group of students worked on the design and implementation of another bridge to also be built in Nicaragua in the summer of 2012. This bridge was implemented in the town of Jucuapa Occidental in the Matagalpa municipality of Nicaragua. The team consisted of four juniors and one graduate student all in civil and environmental engineering.
In the summer of 2013, a team students built a bridge over a 60 foot canyon for the community of Jicaro in the municipality of Esquipulas in the department of Matagalpa of Nicaragua. This bridge will help approximately 1,000 people reach jobs, education, and healthcare.
This year our group will be designing and preparing for the construction of a bridge in Las Lagunas. Las Lagunas is a community in the municipality of Boaco in the department of Matagalpa of Nicaragua.