As part of our education cornerstone, Determined to Develop continues to advance in our signature project of constructing a new high school in rural Malawi, Africa. This summer, the University of Dayton’s ETHOS program is surveying the land donated to us by the local chiefs and beginning to lay the foundation for construction of a new high school in rural Malawi, Africa. With more than 110 acres of rolling hills, this is no small task. Some of our sponsored youth who have successfully graduated high school in Malawi have been working together with University of Dayton engineers to create a master plan of the high school site in order to provide an initial understanding of the land topography and locations of specific buildings.

Today we hear from engineer Megan Timmerman about her time with Determined to Develop in Malawi:

Being in Malawi and working on an engineering project has definitely brought some ups and downs. My counterpart Reed and I are working towards creating a master site plan, consisting of a complete topographic map which will pin point each academic building as well as hostels (dorms) and storage buildings. This means we have to construct digital drawings of each building floor plan. This part is really fun because it means we can play around with the design as a digital 3D model!

Our project began with a survey of the land where the high school is going to be built. We have used something called a total station, which shoots points and collects data from that point, like the distance and angle. From this information, we can make calculations to determine the coordinates and elevation of the point we shot which are then recorded into 3D programming software to make the topographical map.

Part of our project means we get to work with 3 local Malawians on the project. We taught Taleka, Farlington, and Owen Mcheka how to use the surveying equipment. The goal of surveying is to collect data from as many points as possible to show the elevation changes.

Challenges of the project have been that the site is very large, hilly and has lots of valleys! There is a lot of difficult land to account for. Add that to all of the trees and tall overhead grass (which means its hard to see the prism and shoot the points with trees in the way) and as you can imagine, it’s a very long and hard process! Oh, and I’ve also taken a few tumbles on my bike when riding up to the site too!

Some of our recent achievements are digitally drafting the building layouts for the garage, stores and dorms. It’s exciting to know all the things we are working on are going to be put to great use in the near future. So far, working in Malawi on a challenging project has been a great experience. Working hand in hand with the Malawian youth has been great and our team aims to put in the hard work to produce good results before the end of our time with Determined to Develop.

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