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Las Cruces Students Build Bridge In Puerto Rico

Aug 8, 2018

After approximately 10,000 work hours, New Mexico State University’s Aggies Without Limits student organization built a suspended pedestrian bridge in Utuado, Puerto Rico, this summer.

Aggies Without Limits, a student nonprofit organization in the College of Engineering founded in 2007, chooses a local project and international project each year. The group’s mission is to help developing communities with sustainable engineering projects. 

While Aggies Without Limits have constructed projects in international locations such as Nicaragua, Bolivia and Mexico, the group selected Puerto Rico, a United States territory, this year after the island was devasted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in fall 2017, according to Kenny Stevens, Engineering Technology professor and Aggies Without Limits co-adviser. 

The project ran from May 14 to June 12 with 55 volunteers including 39 NMSU students and alumni and 16 University of Texas-El Paso students and faculty with the Engineers for a Sustainable World organization. The bridge reached 237 feet and cost around $40,000 in materials. Stevens also mentioned Sonya Cooper, associate dean in the College of Engineering and Aggies Without Limits co-adviser, “is the MacGyver of the organization. She can take a waste piece of metal and turn it into the one bolt that we need to finish the bridge.” 

This year’s collaboration with UTEP was a first for the group. Stevens credited Ivonne Santiago, UTEP Civil Engineering clinical professor, Puerto Rico native and a professional engineer licensed in the territory, with making connections with the community organizer and mayor from Utuado. 

“With her help we were able to find a project and bring in a whole new dynamic to our group,” he said. 

NMSU mechanical engineering senior David Castellanos said he enjoyed helping others and personally learned a great deal as project manager. 

“It was a beautiful experience,” he said. “It’s crazy how a project like this brings people together.”

While the Aggies Without Limits began as an engineering organization about half of the group’s members are from other disciplines. Communication disorders senior and Aggies Without Limits president Molly Williams joined to volunteer for international service. 

“You don’t have to be an engineering student to move rocks or to help pour concrete or help build a form,” she said. “If you have a basic understanding you can help.” 

To learn more about Aggies Without Limits visit https://aggieswithoutlimits.org.

Information from NMSU