Re-building Haiti: Simple engineering by high-tech engineers
Engineers are in high-demand in Silicon Valley, but their skills are also needed in the developing world. Engineers without Borders is a nonprofit working on projects big and small all over the world. SmartPlanet visits the organization's San Francisco chapter to learn about its efforts to build a health clinic designed to accommodate more than 50,000 patients in Bayonnais, Haiti.
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Sumi Das: This is a scene from Bayonnais, Haiti, where community members of the earthquake ravaged country are building a new health clinic. The engineering work on the project is being done by a volunteer based organization known as Engineers Without Borders. The group raises money through fundraising and donations and then helps communities in developing countries with infrastructure projects, big and small. Speaker 2: A lot of what we do is simple engineering concepts essentially, so it's, it's, it's a lot of things that you and any engineer would learn in school. Sumi Das: Foreign name is a volunteer engineer and president of the organization's San Francisco Chapter. Speaker 2: Usually the community pays a small percentage of the material cost and most of the labor is done by the community. We do the design, we find the materials, it's all locally sourced, we always try to keep the, the money in the local economy of where we, where we work. And then we go back and implement it with the help of the community. Sumi Das: The engineers work in communities all over the world. Right now, they're in areas such as Kenya, Tanzania, and El Salvador. And they're helping fulfill basic needs, whether it's constructing wells for safe drinking water or installing solar panels for clean energy. But the engineers also build big things, which brings us back to their work in Haiti and one of their biggest projects to date, this million dollar health clinic that will serve more than 50,000 people. Nick King is the construction manager on the project. Nick King: This is a fully built out site, what we hope it will look like in five to ten years. This entire facility is about 20,000 square feet and this is a facility that we're working on right now, phase one. Sumi Das: King is no small time engineer. He's also helping build the new Bay Bridge in San Francisco and Oakland, but he says the Haiti Project is different. Why? Because it's more about mango trees than massive sheets of metal. Nick King: The site is actually built around this mango tree. The mango tree was really important. Obviously they need food as much as they need medical care, so, so we did our best to preserve this tree. Sumi Das: It's this type of engineering thinking and simplicity of design that's required when working on projects in developing countries. And for inaudible that's what makes it so rewarding. Speaker 2: I think I was looking for just simple results, just being able to go in and help people, but with the, with the, the really basic skills that I have that really appeal to them. Sumi Das: For Smart Planet, I'm Sumi Das.