B2P Bolivia 2018

About Our Project: 

In the summer of 2018, our team comprised of 4 undergraduate Duke students  and 4 University College of London students built an 81 meter pedestrian suspended footbridge in the isolated community of Tablas Monte in the Cochabamba region of Bolivia. We are partnered with Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), an international organization that works with universities and corporations to end poverty caused by rural isolation by building pedestrian footbridges in isolated communities.

To learn more about our partnering organization B2P, please check out: this link. The university program associated with Bridges to Prosperity was transferred to the Engineers in Action (EIA) Bridge Program in Fall of 2018, after the completion of this project. DEID continues to have a student chapter associated with the EIA Bridge Program.

Throughout the 2017-2018 school year, the team met weekly to prepare, design, and instruct bridge building practices and methods in preparation for implementation of the project. The project leaders, Kate White and Rikki Kendall, conducted a Tag-Along Bridge Build with Rutgers University in summer of 2017 where they were able to experience the entirety of the critical construction phase, essential to the build of the project. That experience, along with workshops at the B2P Bridge Conference in October 2017, prepared the two project leaders to lead Duke’s renewed Bridges to Prosperity Chapter in the 2018 project.

On Campus: We have weekly meetings with our team to discuss fundraising, learn about safety practices, learn about construction and design techniques, and discuss the cultural and ethical aspects of global development. Team members participated in safety presentations with quizzes, a surveying workshop, and an AutoCAD workshop. Additionally, two students took the course, CEE 315, that is offered in the spring in order to better understand the design principles of the bridge design. The team also spent a lot of time on campus developing fundraisers to fundraise the project material costs and also personal travel expenses. Some examples of fundraisers are “Boo Bags” for Halloween where students and parents could send bags of candy to be delivered at the doors of their friends or children, Panda Express and Chipotle Fundraisers, and selling Duke spirit wear. Additionally, team members worked on writing grant applications and personal fundraising letters to send out to friends and family.


The team utilized the Bridges to Prosperity Bridge Manual as a guide for design. The B2P team of engineers provided us with survey points and from there, we performed the necessary calculations and drew up the AutoCAD design. The design was checked by our Bridge Corps, professional engineers who help advise the team, and B2P engineers. The team was able to dive deeper into the equations involved and understanding the reasoning behind certain design steps through these mentorships and through the CEE 315 class.


The team travelled to the Tablas Monte community for 8 weeks in summer 2018, working side by side with the community every day to construct the 81 meter pedestrian suspended footbridge. The team lived in an old school house building and ate in the house of a local community leader. The team started the construction from the very beginning phases, participating in an inauguration of the site, clearing the land, laying out the site based on survey points, and beginning excavations. Students learned to mix concrete by hand, bend and cut rebar, use stone masonry, and other valuable construction skills. Additionally, the students learned the importance of safety, communication, team work, and flexibility.

The phases of the construction included excavation, foundation construction, tier construction, tower construction, anchor construction, cable crossing, sag setting, and decking the bridge.

Students developed relationships with the members of the community who worked on site every day, and through these relationships learned more Spanish and even some Quechua. The students also played soccer and basketball with community members during their down time. Additionally, students explored new foods and some even learned to pick up some of the local cooking techniques by helping out the cook. The team felt very welcomed by the community and by the end was sad to leave the place they now called home.


Bridge Foundation Construction

Team and Community after crossing the five 120 m steel cables across the gorge.

Team members laying decking boards on the steel crossbeams with the mason. The team used full body safety harnesses and had a fall rescue plan.

Team member posing on the partially completed bridge deck.

4 Duke team members with the almost completed bridge deck.

Duke team on the completed bridge

Team members with our mason on Inauguration Day of the bridge. The women in the community let the girl team members borrow traditional Bolivian clothing to dress as “cholitas” for the celebration.

Community members crossing the bridge for the first time on inauguration day.

Finished bridge





























How to Learn More:

If you are interested in supporting our team or would like to learn more, please contact our project leaders:

Rikki Kendall – yrk3@duke.edu

Kate White – kaw70@duke.edu

Like our page on Facebook @DukeEIA(Duke University Engineers in Action and follow us on instagram @dukeengineers_in_action for information about events and project updates.