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In order to properly prepare for the roof construction over the summer of 2010, RHIT-EWB sent a small team of students in late November to the village in the Dominican Republic to gather vital information for the project. Things such as local prices and availability of construction materials and skilled laborers, collection of soil and water samples for testing, and the overall feasibility of the project were determined. The team of students returned with their findings and shared them with the rest of RHIT-EWB, so that design and planning for construction could begin.
Implementation 2010: Phase 1 – A Roof Over Our Heads
The first phase of Project Justice involved building a roof on the existing building next to the operating clinic. As per Engineers Without Borders protocol, the roof needs to be sustainable and use technology available to the local populace. In order for the roof to be sustainable it needs to withstand whatever nature throws at it. This includes hurricanes, earthquakes, and termites. The roof also needs to be functional and appealing. In order for us to meet all these goals professionally and in a timely fashion, we partnered with Architecture for Humanity in the design and construction of the roof.
For the roof to withstand hurricanes, it needs to have sufficient weight and anchoring. To insure this, our design used several bolts extending from under the existing concrete structure attached to heavy duty anchors in the roof to provide a cohesive tension path covering the entire roof. The racking of the roof in the wind conditions is prevented by several shear walls anchored to the top of the main part of the building. The corrugated metal roofing is nailed into plywood fixed to the top of the rafters. The windows installed can easily be opened and closed to prevent rain from coming in.
When arriving on the project site, several inevitable hiccups developed in the construction of our planned building. The invaluable experience and professionalism of our project mentor allowed us to overcome all problems that we encountered within the time of the implementation trip.
In the end, after several redesigns, the roof was constructed while still being up to standards. The new roof was several feet shorter in several dimensions, but columns were constructed to help support the weight of the roof during a hurricane or earthquake.
While the roof was constructed on time, the deadlines were close. The hard work of all the traveling members from EWB and AFH was commendable, and the community support and work was incredible. All of the students who traveled learned a great deal not only about construction, but also about perseverance and hard work. We are all glad that we were able to do the work that we did, but are also thankful that we were provided with the opportunity. As a chapter, we are looking forward to continuing the project this upcoming year and cannot wait to see the final product in action.