Bolivia - NDSEED

Population facets: 

This site is exclusively for NDSEED 2017-18 traveling members only

Partner Organization: Bridges to Prosperity and Notre Dame Students Empowering through Engineering Development (ND SEED), and Engineers in Action (EIA)

Location:  Bolivia

Number of Students:  2-5  students

Dates:  Determined by ND SEED team. Flexible Summer (6-8 weeks)


Participation Requirements:

  • Language & Proficiency Requirement:  Spanish helpful, at least 2 group members must be fluent
  • Gender Requirement:  None
  • Required Experience:  None
  • Major Requirement:  Engineering , 1 Business student helpful
  • Student Minimum Age:  18 but recommended for upperclassmen between soph-junior or junior-senior years
  • Special Requirements:  1 year project commitment, Co-Req: enroll in 1 Fall and 1 Spring semester of College of Engineering Tech Elective Course; Students must be part of the ND SEED project team.
  • Other:  None

Special Training Required Prior to Summer Deployment: 

(The following sessions and workshops will be organized and provided by the ISSLP during the Spring semester. Additional training sessions may be added as needed.)

  • First Aid & CPR
  • Self Defense

Special Funding Obligation:

ND SEED team fundraises to cover all expenses.  The ISSLP program provides a travel award to team members accepted and fully committed to and completing the ISSLP program requirements. ISSLP travel award will be retracted if academic course requirements are not fulfilled and prorated if student voluntarily vacates placement prematurely.


Site Description:  

Notre Dame Students Empowering through Engineering Development (ND SEED) was formed in February 2008 at the University of Notre Dame when six civil engineering students decided to combine their academic interests with service. By following the example of Continental Crossings, a group of students from the University of Iowa, ND SEED formed a partnership with the non-profit organization Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) and was able to empower a rural Honduran community by providing it with a suspended footbridge.

The success of the first ND SEED team's project and its alignment with the University of Notre Dame and the College of Engineering mission statements encouraged the formation of a second team, ND SEED 2010, in order to continue the tradition.  The ND SEED 2010 team worked with B2P to build a second Notre Dame bridge, this time with a community in Palquí, Guatemala.  Like the first team, they were responsible for fundraising the cost of the project, designing the bridge with the help of B2P and the faculty in the ND Civil Engineering Department, and managing the construction of the project onsite in Guatemala.  In 2010-2011 ND SEED started working with and building in numerous communities in Nicaragua.

After 7 years of work in Nicaragua, in 2017 ND SEED is transitioning to Bolivia adding a fourth country to the list. The team is partnering with Engineers in Action (EIA), an organization dedicated to improving the lives of people in need through sustainable programs that build their capacity. ND SEED is committed to continue its relationships with Nicaraguan partners to ensure projects are maintained and hope continues to build.

ND SEED entered a partnership with the International Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP) through Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns in 2010.  Over the coming years, the ISSLP will challenge ND SEED team members to think critically about the difficult social issues that they encounter over the course of the project, and delve into the root causes of the severe poverty that their bridges are seeking to reduce.  By developing a relationship with ND SEED, the ISSLP is able to offer engineering students a service-learning program that is both technically-based and supported by the College of Engineering.  

As NDSEED selects team members in a process separate and distinct from the ISSLP, team members are required to complete the ISSLP application and interview process.  Suitability and compatibility with ISSLP learning goals are assessed, and only team members accepted and fully committing to the ISSLP and completing course requirements receive the funding award.

Rising to the fundraising challenge, ND SEED secures necessary funds and successfully provides students with an amazing opportunity to put their engineering knowledge to use in the developing world through long-term, sustainable infrastructure projects.  It also exposes students to the rigors of managing a real project, including a budget of roughly $25,000.  The actual location of the site changes each year depending on where Bridges to Prosperity is working.


Scope of Work & Responsibilities:

Building a 50-100m footbridge in a developing country takes a full year commitment.  ND SEED team members enroll in a variable credit Technology Elective course in the College of Engineering for both the fall and spring semesters prior to the summer construction of the bridge.   Fundraising efforts begin as soon as school starts in the fall or even before.  Students develop a relationship with Bridges to Prosperity and arrange a visit to survey the site over Winter Break. 

When the ND SEED team returns with their measurements, they begin the design process with the assistance of B2P.  Fundraising efforts continue over the course of the semester.  By January, the team submits their design to B2P for review by the B2P staff.  Once the design is approved, the team starts preparation for construction.  A B2P Program Manager living in-country arranges the supply of much of the bridge’s materials and begins site preparations with the community.  By the time the ND SEED team arrives, initial excavations and some foundations are poured.  The team then takes over the management of the construction and works directly with the community members who are building the bridge.  Upon completion of the construction, a B2P staff member reviews the bridge to ensure its safety.


Housing & Lodging Information:

Housing and Lodging arrangements vary from year to year.  In consultation with the ISSLP, EIA and B2P, the ND SEED team makes the decision for their own living situation based on the practicalities of the site.  Accommodations have ranged from extended hostel stays, to camping in the village.  EIA’s in-country staff will work with the ND SEED team to ensure that all arrangements are safe and practical for the team.


For More Information

Bridges to Prosperity website:
Engineers in Action website:
ND SEED what would you fight for video:
ND SEED 2012 blog:


Former ISSLP/ND SEED Participants:

Eric Duarte’ 19 (ISSLP 2017)
Daniela Lugo’18 (ISSLP 2016) 
Emily Reeve’ 19 (ISSLP 2017) 
Stephen Seward’18 (ISSLP 2016)
Notice:  Certain sites may be canceled and other sites added at any point during the selection and orientation process