New York – June 1, 2010 – The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation has awarded two $5,000 grants to Engineers Without Borders (EWB-USA) for their critical work on the design and construction of bridge projects in Central America. Central Michigan University’s student chapter of EWB and the Wisconsin Professional Partners chapter, in collaboration with Marquette University’s student chapter, were selected as grant recipients for the construction of bridges in Gualindo Arriba, El Salvador and Joyabaj, Guatemala.
“We are so proud to support Engineers Without Borders’ extraordinary efforts in Central America,” said Richard Tomasetti, chairman of the Foundation. “The construction of the bridges are critical to the regions’ infrastructure and will greatly revitalize these communities and boost economic and social opportunities.”
The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation recently partnered with EWB-USA’s Project Sponsor program and committed to contributing $25,000 to the organization in 2010 through the EWB Thornton Tomasetti Foundation Grant. The Foundation distributed $10,000 for this spring’s grant cycle and will distribute the remaining $15,000 in this fall’s grant cycle. The grants are endowed to meet the mission of the Thornton Tomasetti Foundation and to provide financial support for those pursuing philanthropic activities related to engineering, design or technology for buildings and bridges. EWB-USA student and professional chapters working on projects that meet the criteria can apply for the grants.
Located in the mountains of eastern El Salvador, the town of Gualindo Arriba was severely lacking reliable access to schools, healthcare and markets due to heavy rains that swell the rivers and flood the main roads. Central Michigan University’s student chapter of EWB-USA heard about the problems and set out to create a solution. A team traveled to the region in August 2009 and determined a bridge was critical to provide year-round access to the community’s fundamental needs. Design work is proceeding and an implementation trip to construct the bridge is scheduled for this summer. The bridge is expected to be completed in March 2011.
The economic, educational and social development of more than 20,000 people has been impeded by the lack of safe and efficient means of crossing the polluted Rio Chiquito in Guatemala. The Wisconsin Professional Partners’ chapter of EWB-USA joined forces with students from Marquette University in Milwaukee to conduct a site survey in preparation for a new bridge location. The EWB team met with community leaders and received a firm commitment to move forward with the project. Labor, financial and material resources were offered by the community to begin construction of the bridge. The estimated completion date for the project is January 2011.
The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation, a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization established in February 2008, has two primary missions including funding fellowships, scholarships and internships for undergraduate students, and those planning to pursue graduate studies in building engineering, design or technology and providing financial support for individuals and organizations pursuing philanthropic activities related to building engineering, design or technology. Key elements of the program are college scholarships, traveling internships, and grants to, and partnerships with nonprofit organizations.