SESH Trip to Nepal 2016
aug 31, 2016 - sep 14, 2016
The Structural Engineering Students for Humanity (SESH) group at Cal Poly, established 5 years ago by Christina Chillin was created to give students an opportunity to work on socially impactive humanitarian projects with an emphasis in structural engineering in third world countries. For the past several years, SESH has traveled to Haiti to work with various NGO’s and structural engineering non-profit organizations. This year, the SESH trip was to Kathmandu, Nepal, an area that suffered huge devastation after the April 2014 earthquake.
15 ARCE students accompanied by James Mwangi (Cal Poly ARCE professor) and Stefanie Rae Arizabal (Cal Poly ARCE 2010 Alumnus and P.E. at Strandberg Engineering) travelled to Nepal for two weeks to help with the evaluation and seismic retrofits of two buildings. As part of the 2016 trip and the partnership with Miyamoto, SESH’s goal was to raise $7,000, which would go towards the seismic rehabilitation of the Shree Shanti Niketan School. SESH managed to raise a total of $13,100, almost doubling their goal! SESH partnered with Miyamoto Global Disaster Relief in Nepal, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization specializing in Structural Engineering pioneered by Dr. Kit Miyamoto. Brian Planas, a Cal Poly ARCE 2010 Alumnus, currently working for Miyamoto’s Nepal office and Sabine Kast, Miyamoto’s Executive Director helped to facilitate and organize the projects that SESH worked on during the two weeks.
Nepal was chosen as the location for the 2016 SESH trip because it provides a unique opportunity to bring engineering and construction practices closer together while reinforcing what we learn in the ARCE coursework. Nepal was a huge opportunity for our students to positively affect people, communities and the way they build while experiencing a culture vastly different from our own. Miyamoto Global Disaster Relief works to save lives by encouraging adherence to international building standards in developing countries through public education, technical seminars for builders and demonstration projects.
The first couple days in Kathmandu, Nepal were spent evaluating the Gaddi Baithak, a white neoclassical historical building located in the Kathmandu Durbar Square that suffered immense damage during the earthquake. The students along with the help of Mwangi, Arizabal, and Miyamoto managed to create as-Built drawings and damage mapping for the structure, as well as begin preliminary retrofitting efforts. The next portion of the trip was dedicated to creating a similar product for the Shree Shanti Niketan School, the school that the money was fundraised for. While at the school, the ARCE students talked to the young Nepalese students about the effects of the earthquake. They also led several small workshops for the students.
The last 4 days of the trip were dedicated to going on a “Village Trip” so that the students could witness the effects of the earthquake damage in the more rural areas of Nepal as well as to get a better sense of the Nepalese culture. Planas, from Miyamoto, accompanied SESH, along with several Nepalese trekking guides. The students travelled over 15 hours into the Nepalese countryside by car and then foot to reach the village, Phul karka (meaning “flower garden”). The group visited several active construction sites to get a sense for how construction is executed in the rural areas of Nepal. Overall, the 2016 trip to Nepal was a huge success!