Brian Rivers, Cotter class of 2011, recently served with “Engineers Without Borders” in Ghana, Africa. Brian is an engineering student at UW Platteville.
The purpose of the trip was to invite engineering students into real life building projects. The materials and equipment available in Ghana are different than what we expect here in Minnesota.
Here’s a quote from his blog:
Our recipe for optimal concrete strength (2700 psi) was:
Cement- I bag
Quarry Dust—2 headpans
Aggregate (rock)—4 headpans
From the mixer, we then poured the concrete into wheelbarrows and workers hustled to get their loads to the trench and back, especially after our fleet of 4 wheelbarrows was cut to 3 when a tire popped. When the concrete was poured into the trench, Menasseh and James spread out the concrete with a shovel and tamp while holding the underlying rebar in the middle of concrete. Then the survey team shot a point on the newly poured concrete, communicating whether the level was good or whether the level needed any change.
We repeated the above process countless times and at quite a breakneck pace. However hard the manual labor of shoveling or delivering freshly poured concrete, I found this to be the most fun and enriching process yet. I got to know so many of the villagers personally and it was great to see them give up their own free time to assist in the construction. When we broke for lunch at noon both days, we were able to come together as a single workforce and get to know each other. The villagers I sat with shared a meal called “Kinke” with me. It is a simple meal consisting of cornmash and Shinto sauce but is quite bold in flavor. I received some laughs when I took a little too much Shinto sauce and drained a water bottle to cool my mouth.