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Student bridges engineering and entrepreneurship

March 15, 2010

Arizona State University engineering student Bobby Cottam is among the first to take advantage of a new opportunity for ASU students to put innovative ideas into action solving community problems.

Cottam grew up in Mesa, Ariz., graduating as valedictorian in 2007 from Red Mountain High School. He’s now a junior studying in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, and in the School of Sustainability

He’s also involved in the Entrepreneur Advantage Project. The project provides students – even those without business experience – opportunities to pursue entrepreneurial ventures. (This semester, students who have innovative venture ideas are encouraged to participate in the ASU Innovation Challenge. The deadline for applications is March 26.)

Cottam is president of the ASU civil engineering club Bridges to Prosperity. It’s a chapter of a national organization that seeks to help communities in developing countries raise their standards of living. Its specific focus is on building footbridges.  

Through the Entrepreneur Advantage Project, Cottam and his team were awarded a grant that jump-started their project to design and construct a bridge in the rural town of Bocuire, in the Central American republic of Honduras.

Working with town residents, the team constructed a 40-meter-long footbridge that now links seven neighboring communities in the area.

During the country’s rainy season, access to the communities was possible only by time-consuming treks on unsafe routes. The new bridge enables children in Bocuire to travel to schools using a much safer and shorter path.

In a recent interview on the Entrepreneurship at ASU Web site, Cottam shares insights on the challenges of completing the bridge project and talks about how Entrepreneurship Advantage has had a positive impact on him and others.

Written by: Jessica Graham