Engineers Without Borders

Mark Mansfield, Tucson Electric Power’s Vice President of Energy Resources, and five University of Arizona students built outhouses in Bolivia with local residents as part of Engineers Without Borders.

Mark is a professional mentor for the UA chapter of the nonprofit humanitarian organization that supports engineering projects in third-world countries, primarily to improve water and sanitation systems. He served as the leader for the 2015 trip.

The group spent two weeks in Marquirivi, a village of about 300 people located at 13,000-foot elevation in the Andes Mountains that has no sanitation facilities. Each year, Mark said, about 1.5 million children in third-world countries die from diarrhea that results from germs spread through unsanitary defecating in open spaces.

Previously, the team helped the village build showers with thermo-siphons for hot water.

The team prepared a project plan (complete with drawings and travel details) that was reviewed and approved by EWB’s national organization. Team members spent several months practicing how to site and build outhouses – everything from testing the soil to using hand-tools, digging holes and hand-mixing and pouring concrete.

By day in Marquirivi, they built three outhouses with supplies obtained locally and taught the villagers the construction process so they can build more facilities. By night, they slept on mats in the back room of a school building.

“I love engineering, and I wanted to travel,” said Mansfield, who has a self-described sense of adventure. “It’s been just delightful working with these students. They have done an amazing job designing, fundraising and getting ready for this trip. It’s satisfying on a lot of levels.”