Well, my bags are packed with surveying equipment and hopefully everything I will need for eight and a half weeks in rural Nicaragua. Throughout the eight and a half weeks, I will try to provide weekly blog posts, but posts may be scattered depending on how often I have access to an internet café with Wifi.
In this blog post, I’ll introduce the awesome travel team that Continental Crossings has assembled for this bridge project. The team is composed of seven members that are engineering students at the University of Iowa. Amongst our team, each person has been assigned a position of leadership and given certain responsibilities to ensure that the bridge is built in a cost and time efficient manner with safety and quality held paramount. We are a young crew this summer, but we have spent countless hours preparing for this construction site and are ecstatic to begin construction!
I am Katie Langenfeld and I will be serving as the project manager on site this summer. I am going into my junior year at Iowa in Environmental Engineering and Math and I am the president of our student organization. Last summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to be on the Jicaro team and gain hands on experience working with a community to build a bridge from the beginning to the end. I am so excited to live in the community and work hand in hand with them as they build their bridge to prosperity!
Our construction manager for the site this summer is Anthony Emigh. He has just finished his freshman year at Iowa and is majoring in Biomedical Engineering. He has been a great addition to our student organization at Iowa for his incredible graphic design talents and his willingness to jump in as a leader in our group. Next year, he will be a VP for our group! This will be his first time out of the country, so let it be his first of many great international experiences!
Aaron Nessler is going into his sophomore year in Biomedical Engineering and is our logistics manager for this summer. It will be his responsibility to make sure all the materials show up on site in the right quantities and on time (or as much on time as possible for Nicaragua). He will also be in charge of making sure we all have food for the community to prepare us on site. We are all lucky to be so dependent on someone that is one of those uncommonly nice people in this world. I swear I have never heard him say anything negative or seen him have nothing to smile about in my life.
Our safety team is made up of Natalie Jones and Soley Thornsteinsdottir. Both of them speak Spanish fluently, which will help to keep our team and the community safe on site this summer!
Natalie Jones just finished her second year at Iowa in Biomedical Engineering. She will be serving as vice president with Anthony next year. I deem her an extreme packer. I believe the day I called her to let her know she was selected for the travel team was the day I received an email asking for a packing list. The packing process has taken months for Natalie and I am sure we will all be relying on her preparedness at one point or another on this trip. Her attention to detail, for both packing and preparing safety procedures, is going to make her a great safety manager this summer!
Soley Thornsteinsdottir is the wisest person on the team this year as she has only one semester left at Iowa before she graduates in Civil Engineering and has to find a real job in the real world. She is also a very well-traveled member of our team having spent semesters abroad in Spain and Iceland as well as a summer in Costa Rica. Her communication skills and past experiences make her a valuable team member and an awesome safety manager.
Quinn McNutt and Colin Joy make up our quality control team. They will be responsible for double checking everything and ensuring that our bridge is built to the highest quality.
Quinn McNutt is going into this junior year at Iowa and majoring in Civil Engineering with a focus in structures. He gets sunburned very easily, so I’m told that half of his bag is filled with sunscreen. I’m crossing my fingers it works because there is nothing fun about sunburn. Quinn provides many skills for our team this year. He spent a lot of time on design work this year and is prepared to be a quality control manager!
Colin Joy is going into his third year at Iowa and majoring in Civil Engineering. Colin is an avid hockey fan, so he’s planning on bringing his enthusiasm and optimism for hockey to the site this summer! He has been studying hard to prep for this trip. Between Colin and Quinn, we will have the best quality control team!
In addition to this team of seven, several technical mentors will be visiting and working with us periodically throughout the trip. They include the fabulous Ethan Gingerich, who led the bridge build last summer in Jicaro. Our travel mentor last summer, Johann Zimmermann will be joining us for a week with his son Jonas. Justin Guevara from Kiewit Corporation worked on the El Limon bridge site earlier this year and will be joining us for two weeks in July. Karl Barth will be joining us for a week in July and is a faculty member in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at West Virginia University.
The wonderful in-country manager for Bridges to Prosperity, Brandon Johnson, has given us a helping hand in getting the site prepped. The following pictures show the big pile of rocks that the community has collected as well as the work on excavating the foundations and anchors that has already been done. And with that overview, let the bridge build begin!