Lindsey tells Global Atlanta her internship in Nepal showed her the power of earthquake engineering to improve lives, communities

Friday, August 11, 2017

When civil engineering senior Maggie Lindsey went looking for an internship abroad, she couldn’t find exactly what she was looking for.

She needed to complete the requirements for her global engineering leadership minor, and she wanted her global practicum experience to have a good balance of engineering and human compassion, she told international business news website Global Atlanta.

Some deep internet digging turned up what she thought might be the perfect place, Miyamoto International’s nonprofit arm, Miyamoto Relief. Just one problem: the firm didn’t have any internship opportunities.

Global Atlanta’s Phil Bolton picks up there:

Undergraduate Maggie Lindsey, left, with structural engineer Priyanka Singh in the main room of the Gaddi Baithak in Kathmandu, Nepal. Lindsey was an intern with Miyamoto International in the country during spring 2017, where she worked on a project to restore the 100-year-old palace. (Photo: Binod Shrestha)
Senior Maggie Lindsey, left, with structural engineer Priyanka Singh in the main room of the Gaddi Baithak in Kathmandu, Nepal. Lindsey was an intern with Miyamoto International in the country during spring 2017, where she worked on a project to restore the 100-year-old palace. It was damaged in a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that rocked the country in 2015. Lindsey was one of 14 civil and environmental engineering students to complete an international internship during the last year. (Photo: Binod Shrestha)
 

Undeterred she wrote a canny email to [Sabine] Kast, the executive director [of Miyamoto Relief], seeking her perspective on how to prepare to work for a technical non-profit such as hers.

“I finally was able to talk on the phone and told her about my interests and relevant experience such as having worked in Costa Rica for two weeks, but that I was really interested in something more long-term,” she said.

Ms. Kast, who was traveling back and forth between the newly established Nepal office and the California office, came through and set up the four-month internship. With the financial backing of Tech’s Joe S. Mundy [Global] Learning Endowment she was on her way to Kathmandu.

Lindsey found a country still wrecked from a 2015 earthquake that killed close to 9,000 people, injured many thousands more, and triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest. The delays in reconstruction presented a fortuitous opportunity for Lindsey, however.

The buildings that suffered the most were the taller and historic ones including the Gaddi Baithak Palace at Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, a UNESCO heritage site where Nepal’s royalty lived and conducted official business, which suffered extensive damage and long delays before its reconstruction was initiated.

The delays incurred public criticism with the growing possibility of the structure being torn down. But they prompted Miyamoto Relief to advocate for its reconstruction in keeping with its commitment to preserving heritage structures once they determined it could be saved.

Miyamoto Relief’s efforts were reinforced by the U.S. embassy’s decision to support the project from the Ambassadors Fund, which supports the preservation of cultural sites, cultural objects, and forms of traditional cultural expression in more than 100 developing countries.

And the delays turned out to be a blessing for Ms. Lindsey, who was assigned to work on the project.

“There were no plans for the site, and bricks were still falling down when I got there,” she said. “We had to measure everything. Nobody knew even what it was made of, so one of the most important aspects was learning how the structure was built and how it failed.”

Read the full story at Global Atlanta.