2019 Projects: Bolivia
The originally-assigned bridge project was cancelled due to the host community choosing to save resources for other endeavors. However, Penn State's team was still enthusiastic to travel and ended up helping other teams on three different bridges throughout Bolivia. The team's travel lasted from late May to early July, and the team was joined by tag-along students from Bucknell University.
First Project: Humapirhua, Bolivia
Penn State was first assigned to help the University of Alberta with a Georgia Tech tag-along at Humapirhua. Upon arrival, the other teams were finishing the bridge towers. Penn State students had the opportunity to work alongside other students from setting the cable sag all the way through completion of the bridge with fencing. This gave the travel team experience on the second half of construction.
Second Project: Flores Rancho, Bolivia
Following completion of the Humapirhua bridge, students traveled to Flores Rancho as the first team on site for a project assigned to the University of Iowa and University of Illinois. Upon arrival, the land owner of the proposed site requested that the bridge be moved slightly upstream. This necessitated complex communication and teamwork as Penn State surveyed the new build site, relaying information to Iowa and Illinois who were modifying the design before leaving the U.S. As changes were finalized, the Penn State team spent time in Cochabamba, a large city in Bolivia where EIA stages materials. The team cut cables for four other bridge projects while on hand, making full use of their time. Upon return to Flores Rancho with the other teams, the three universities worked together to complete excavation with some help from heavy machinery. Penn State's team left following initial site preparation.
Third Project: Siatha, Bolivia
Penn State traveled to one final location to assist Duke, Virginia Tech, and Rutgers with their bridge before their time in Bolivia was complete. Siatha was the most remote location of the trip in a deep river gorge with no cell phone service. This site proved challenging due to the topography of the valley. There was no way to cross the river on foot, so all material that needed to cross the valley had to be transferred on a cable car system designed by students on site. When Penn State arrived, the tiered bases were completed on both sides of the river, but the towers that hold the cables were not done. Penn State helped build the towers and worked until the bridge was finished.