Students work on service learning project in Puerto Rico

During the last week of March, six construction engineering management (CEM) students in the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America student chapter traveled to Puerto Rico with 26 others from eight Oregon State University colleges. Working in conjunction with Puerto Rico’s land grant university, University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, the group performed service projects in areas that directly benefitted those living under difficult conditions after the devastating hurricane of September 2017.

Prior to the trip, Oregon State representatives and Mayaguez officials worked closely with the Segunda Unidad Bernaldo Mendez Jimenez school in the northwest city of San Sebastián to create a service learning plan that would benefit local students.

San Sebastian is also the hometown of Ingrid Arocho, assistant professor of construction engineering, who accompanied the OSU students on the trip.

“The students learned about the construction industry in a different geographical area that can be affected by both hurricanes and earthquakes,” said Arocho. “But I think the most impactful part was meeting a community in need, learning directly about their requirements, and using resources to help.”

“We ended up gutting an entire classroom roof – the wooden framing was badly deteriorated and we felt it was unsafe,” said Alex Park, CEM senior, who participated in the trip. “But we still got done ahead of schedule and under budget.”

The service learning trip was made possible by support from the AGC Oregon-Columbia Chapter and industry sponsors. “Our student chapter is always looking for ways to get involved with communities in need; it’s a core part of our mission,” said Alex Park, CEM senior, “We wanted to be able to contribute in ways we 

were trained.”

As this was the first time Arocho co-lead a service learning activity, she was excited to witness what kind of learning takes place outside the classroom.

“This is an experience that will influence the students both personally and professionally,” said Arocho.