Last month, three Engineering Solutions team members spent a week volunteering with Building Goodness Foundation in Pozo Azul, Guatemala. The school was dedicated on May 14, 2019. Below, read Brian Nixon’s firsthand account of his time on the project in the weeks leading up to the dedication.
At the beginning of April, a couple of coworkers and I had the opportunity to travel with the nonprofit organization Building Goodness Foundation (BGF). We spent a week working on a three-room secondary school in Pozo Azul, Guatemala. This was a project that Engineering Solutions helped design, and being able to follow along with the project and help construct it was incredibly rewarding. Overall, this was an excellent opportunity to volunteer using our skills and knowledge.
BGF organized a crew of local professionals to travel to Guatemala to work on the school. The group included Antonio Martinez, a local architect and native Spanish speaker; Michael Pleasants, a contractor from Charlottesville who had traveled down to Pozo Azul previously to work on the project; Watt Bradshaw, a local solar installer who was our acting electrician on this project; Brian Koerner, owner of Engineering Solutions and board member of BGF; Daniel Rohrer, an Engineer in Training for Engineering Solutions who had done a majority of the structural design work for the school building; and myself, Brian Nixon, Drafting Technician for Engineering Solutions who helped model and draft the roof system.
Pozo Azul is a small village abutting a patch of rainforest. It was built around a small lake which was once blue. A majority of this village’s residents are subsistence farmers, growing just enough to sustain their families. Education in Pozo Azul is limited to primary education. Once the children complete school, they typically join their families working the fields. One of the main goals of this BGF project is to bring secondary education to the town.
When we arrived on the project site, the concrete slab had already been poured, the support columns formed, the roof trusses placed, and a majority of the metal roof had been completed. While we were there, we worked on all the electrical systems that were going in the building, framing out the doors, completing the roof, and setting the CMU perimeter wall around the building. Another part of the BGF project was employing local villagers and teaching them construction skills. It was a great experience working alongside them, learning from them, and sharing our own knowledge with them.
At the end of the week, it was incredible to see what we had accomplished together. The school was one phase closer to completion. In the big scheme of things, there are several more school buildings planned. I hope to get the opportunity to travel down there again and continue helping.
Check out photos from the school dedication on May 14, 2019 below! Click to enlarge.