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Messiah College nonprofit builds bridge in Panama

There’s a new bridge in Panama, crossing a river that often floods and presents a threat to its local town, thanks to a team of students and teachers from Messiah College.

During Panama’s rainy season, the river that snakes through the community of Bajo Grande quickly becomes a threat to the town of more than 70,000 people, officials at the Mechanicsburg college explained this summer.

And that rain often turns into dangerous currents that inhibit access to health care and education for local residents.

But a new bridge was engineered and recently completed by members of a Messiah College nonprofit organization called the “Collaboratory.”

The new bridge was the nonprofit’s third span completed in the Central American nation, linking the two sides of the river and uniting the region, which is northeast of Panama City.

The Collaboratory is comprised of project teams that include students and college educators.

Student project manager Benjamin Holderman said in a college news release, “The most rewarding part is seeing kids run across it, laughing.”

The Collaboratory works in the basement of Messiah’s engineering building, and relies on the support of community partners to fund its work. A donation by NTM Engineering Inc. of Dillsburg, York County, supplied the materials and resources needed for bridge construction, college officials said.

The college would not disclose the donation amount, but its officials said NTM is just one of the organizations that contributed to the effort.

Donations also were provided by Century Engineering Inc. of New Cumberland, C.S. Davidson Inc. of York, the Association for Bridge Construction and Design’s Susquehanna chapter, COR Construction Services Inc. of Mechanicsburg, David Miller Associates Inc. of Lancaster, the Harrisburg chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers, Lane Enterprises Inc. of Carlisle and Larson Design Group of Harrisburg.

David O'Connor
Dave O'Connor covers York County, manufacturing, higher education, nonprofits, and workforce development. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at doconnor@cpbj.com.

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