Volunteer engineers and dollars are needed
to protect students of a Himalayan school in an earthquake
zone. Andrew Mitchell, P.Eng., said the seismic retrofit
project for the Shree Mangal Dvip School in Kathmandu is
needed because the school would almost certainly collapse
in an earthquake.
Originally a project of University of Alberta engineering
students and the humanitarian organization Engineers Without
Borders, the retrofit is now under the wing of Partners For
Sustainable Development, founded by Edmontonians Khaled Saleh,
E.I.T., and Katharine Cross. Design work was well underway
in early 2003, but now support is needed to turn plans into
Mr. Mitchell, who runs his own Edmonton engineering practice,
says the need is for experienced structural engineers to
assist with design and detailing, and those with project
management experience, possibly in the Third World. The hope
is that a number of engineering firms will be interested
in partnering on the project for financing. “We still
need money for the project, and we need more exposure to
raise funds,” he said.
Cost estimates are hard to come by at this point, but four
other schools in Nepal have been strengthened in the $5,000
to $10,000 US range, said Mr. Mitchell. “This four-storey
dormitory block may be more expensive, however, due to the
use of structural steel cross-bracing and reinforced concrete
shear walls.” Half the boarders will be away on holidays
in June and July 2004, so Partners For Sustainable Development
is aiming for construction to take place then.
The boarding school, home for about 200 children for about
10 years of their lives, is in a high-risk zone for earthquakes.
It’s unlikely if one struck that the school would withstand
U of A students remain involved in the project. Volunteers
from Alberta Energy, Komex International, Stantec and BP-TEC
Engineering Group are also participating.
Anyone wanting to support the project or willing to volunteer
should contact Mr. Mitchell at (780) 437-3688. Watch for
a full feature on the seismic retrofit in an upcoming edition
of The PEGG.