The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by New York-based Thornton Tomasetti, a structural engineering firm has awarded a $9,000 grant to the California Polytechnic State University chapter of Engineers Without Borders for the construction of a $68,000 healthcare clinic in Camilo Ortega, Nicaragua. Cal Poly students will lead the design and construction of the new healthcare facility.

The 1,500-sq-ft medical clinic will sit atop a 10-ft retaining wall on a very steep hill in the outskirts of the Nicaraguan capitol city of Managua. (Photo courtesy of Engineers Without Borders)
Photo Courtesy of Engineers Without Borders
The 1,500-sq-ft medical clinic will sit atop a 10-ft retaining wall on a very steep hill in the outskirts of the Nicaraguan capitol city of Managua.
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The Thornton Tomasetti Foundation which was first established in 2008 provides funding for fellowships, scholarships and internships for undergraduate students and those planning to pursue graduate studies in building engineering, design or technology. The Foundation also provides financial support for individuals and organizations pursuing philanthropic activities related to building engineering, design or technology.

Cal Poly students traveled to Camilo Ortega in September 2008 to meet with political and community leaders and evaluate the need for a healthcare clinic. The region has 19,000 residents with minimal access to any form of basic healthcare and lacks a clean, sanitary and accessible facility for healthcare professionals and residents.

“We are proud to support Engineers Without Borders’ Cal Poly chapter in their critical work in Nicaragua,” said Richard Tomasetti, chairman of the Thornton Tomasetti Foundation. “It is our mission to improve the quality of life in developing countries by utilizing economically sustainable technology and engineering solutions to help these communities thrive.”

The team came up with a design plan and began the first phase of implementation in September 2009, which included the construction of the foundation and retaining wall for the future clinic and cost $38,000. The 1,500-sq-ft clinic will contain at least six rooms including three examination rooms, a gynecological room, a lab, a minor operations room and a pharmacy.

The clinic’s site required the construction of a large masonry retaining wall on the downhill side of the plot to protect the building from erosion during the five-month rainy season and is designed to withstand seismic activity that frequents the area. All excavation, fill and compaction were performed by hand and the masonry walls were laid by a team of skilled community members. The clinic is expected to be completed this June with the second phase costing $30,000.

Completion of the project was originally scheduled for June 2010 but EWB-Cal-Poly still needs to raise approximately $5,000 to be able to power the clinic after it is constructed. Therefore, the completion date has been pushed back to late August through September 2010.

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