Nearly 100 students, faculty members and professionals from across the US and Canada attended the 5th annual Engineers in Action (EIA) Bridge Builder Conference, September 16-18 on the CU Boulder campus.

The annual event connects students and professionals interested in global engineering with EIA staff from Bolivia and Eswatini to discuss the design and construction process of pedestrian bridges in preparation for constructing pedestrian bridges alongside community members in those countries.

“It’s exciting to see so many young students interested in applying their engineering skills to help better people’s lives,” said CU Assistant Teaching Professor Jay Arehart.

Arehart said the conference is an opportunity for students to learn from industry professionals how their engineering knowledge can benefit communities around the world. This year students learned how pedestrian bridges in Bolivia and Eswatini, and vehicular bridges in West Virginia are helping connect communities to essential resources, such as schools and health care, he added.

Logan Pritchard, a sophomore majoring in neuroscience, said the conference was an opportunity to meet professionals and students from different backgrounds. “It was a great opportunity to gain insight into other disciplines and different perspectives on problem solving,” he said.

Kate French, a sophomore double-majoring in mechanical engineering and linguistics, said the conference provides workshops for everyone to “touch up” on their skills. “It’s a chance for us to meet fellow passionate young people, network with more experienced engineers and exchange knowledge and ideas,” she said. “It is always a highlight of my year.”

EIA staff gave presentations to the Global Engineering program, attended classes in the Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering (CEAE) department, and participated in a site visit to a local construction company. Keynote speaker Alexiou Gibson, founder and CEO of The Transformation Factory, also spoke about his journey as an entrepreneur.

The event was organized by the Engineers in Action Bridge Program, CEAE, and the university’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.