Hoffman, a sophomore in aerospace engineering from Chesterfield, Mo., will
lead 19 fellow students from Missouri University of Science and Technology into
the rainforests of Bolivia this month to build self-composting latrines,
install LED study lights, and replace two pedestrian bridges.
It’s all part of a plan by the university’s Engineers Without Borders chapter, which took
Hoffman to the small village of Rio Colorado last year, to turn their
classroom lessons into real-world solutions.
Hoffman says the group has spent months in the planning stage and is eager
to put their engineering skills to use, but anticipates having to “plan on the
“I know everything is going to change once we get down there, and that’s
where we learn what they can’t teach us in the classroom,” Hoffman explains.
“There is no homework problem that gives you different information halfway
through it and says deal with it from where you are now.”
The EWB team will spend May 18 to June 2 in Rio Colorado making life easier
for the 260 students at the Rio Colorado Technical Agricultural High School.
Several projects are on their to-do list, including:
“Traveling to Bolivia with Engineers Without Borders is an awesome
opportunity to help those less fortunate than ourselves,” says Andrew
Schieffer, a junior in mechanical engineering from Troy, Mo. “It’s our duty as
future engineers to use our knowledge and available technology to increase the
standard of living at home and abroad.”
Dr. Rick Stephenson, professor of civil, architectural and environmental
engineering at Missouri S&T, says the energy and dedication of EWB students
amazes everyone who comes in contact with them.
“Their passion for working with the poor and neglected of the third world to
improve their standard of living is an inspiration to me,” says Stephenson, the
chapter’s advisor. “They constantly remind me of our unofficial motto that
engineers can save more lives than doctors.”
Students traveling to Bolivia include:
The 20 Missouri S&T students will be accompanied on the trip by a
Missouri S&T graduate, two faculty members and a student from the
University of Kansas, including:
An additional 16 Missouri S&T students, members of the same EWB chapter,
will leave May 18
for Solola, Guatemala, where they plan to finish the building of a second
earthquake-resistant classroom — adding a roof, stairway and electricity —
and repair the school’s bathrooms.