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UW Student Organization Helps Build Dormitory in Africa

December 16, 2016
people standing in partially framed building
University of Wyoming Engineers Without Borders (EWB-WYO) members pose with Kenyan villagers at the dormitory construction site in summer 2016. (EWB-WYO Photo)

The University of Wyoming chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-WYO) completed its biggest project to date, helping construct a dormitory in an African country in the summer of 2016.

For the past four years, EWB-WYO has partnered with a primary school in Mbita, Kenya, to build a 60-bed dormitory for students. The school serves orphaned and vulnerable children, and it develops programs to provide a safe living and learning environment for the school’s attendees.

Two assessment trips were conducted in 2014 and 2015 to evaluate community needs, perform a technical assessment and gather data for structural design. Directed by UW College of Engineering and Applied Science students Adam Block and Brett Prettyman, who served as project managers, a group of students, professionals and faculty members progressed from contractor selection to structural completion of the dormitory in slightly more than two months.

UW Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering Associate Professor David Mukai was the faculty adviser for the project, and Erin Radosevich and Duncan Kline of Malone Belton Abel P.C. were professional advisers. The team used a confined masonry technique, a unique construction method deployed in seismic zones to resist earthquake effects. Block says the team has received very positive feedback about the completion of the design, adding that community leaders have said the dormitory is “the strongest building we have ever seen.”

In a press release, EWB-WYO praised its supporters.

“Engineers Without Borders would like to say an enormous ‘thank you’ to those of you who helped make the dormitory a reality,” the release states. “Your time and donations will have a significant impact on generations of Kenyan and American students to come.”

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