Bronze Project 2018 : Chavarrias, Bolivia

Our first bridge project as a stand-alone team was in the Southeast region of Bolivia, in a small town called Chavarrias. We were first awarded the project in Tholamarca and did the preparations for that site, which involved:

  • evaluating the geographical and technical information provided by Bridges to Prosperity

  • creating a concept design from the site evaluation

  • analyzing the concept design and making any necessary changes as per the Bridges to Prosperity Bridge Builder's Manual (5th edition)

  • compiling a construction drawing set, approved by Alan Kreisa, the B2P Director of Engineering

  • facilitating design and construction workshops for the travel team and general members to learn more about the components of the bridge

  • fundraising the materials of the bridge via campus events, crowdfunding, corporate sponsorships--totaling about $20 000+ CAD

  • organized a construction schedule for the field, outlining each phase of construction and corresponding time estimation 

  • formulated a quality control checklist based on the University Binder Field Guide (2nd Edition)

  • outlined cross-cultural relations plan and safety protocols including hazard mitigation, risk management, emergency contingency, delegation of safety responsibilities, etc.

  • completed Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) training, as well as UAlberta's Pre-Departure Course, B2P Safety Quiz, Wilderness First Aid, and Fall Protection 

In mid-April, due to some logistical problems, we had been assigned the project in Chavarrias. Chavarrias had an elevation of about 2500 m with a community of 450 members, 30 of them students. From the last three years, four injuries and two deaths were reported from crossing Rio San Luis. This river is impassable during the months of November to April, where the rainy season causes it to flood to dangerous levels.

Our University program provided us the necessary materials to go forth with the project but also required us to do the following:

  • gain understanding of the design made by Richar Galvez (and approved by Alan Kreisa) and present any questions/concerns on constructibility 

  • make a construction schedule based on the completed design including time estimations and safety protocols of each stage

  • update emergency contingency plan based on the new location

  • detail logistics plans such as flight itinerary, personal packing list, hostel accommodations while in Sucre, transportation, tool/material lists, on-site accommodation and cook

  • update cultural engagement plan, outlining current preparations and what will be done in Chavarrias

Meet our travel team:

  • Mitchell Trollip - Project Manager*

  • Travis Strochinski - Construction Manager

  • Rochelle De Omania - Student Bridge Engineer

  • Georgia Dunn - Quality Control Manager

  • Mabel Smith - Safety Manager

  • David Gibbs - Logistics Manager

  • Chelsea Maier - Cross-Cultural Relations Manager

  • Noah Makar - Media Representative

*Awarded the Bridges to Prosperity Bridge Builder of the Year 2018

Bridge Corp Members:

  • Jordan Emond - May 1st to May 12th

  • Dimple Ji - May 13th to May 20th

  • Pablo Cano - May 21st to May 27th

  • Michael Manarin - May 28th to June 3rd

Eight engineering students and four rotating Bridge Corp members travelled in the month of May to help build a 39 metre, 3x3 tier footbridge, the largest tier design available by B2P. They were able to complete the bridge in a record of 26 days--the fastest any University program or industry partner has ever done!


They could not have done it without the contributions of Calixto Vargas Condori (Director of Chavarrias), Barret Wellemeyer (B2P Bolivia Program Manager), the Sopachuy and Chuquisaca Alcaldes, B2P masons, local community members, sponsors, and many others. The team worked tirelessly with little/no rest days but they are incredibly proud to be a part of this project.

The Chavarrias Footbridge will now provide access to education, healthcare, local markets, sports fields, cultural and social events, and transportation to 450 community members and 30 students.

Stay tuned for our Chavarrias travel video!

© 2019 University of Alberta Engineers in Action

Design by: Rochelle de Omania