Aggies Without Limits members strive to make the world a better place

By Tiffany Acosta

The first time Alessa Ibanez boarded an international flight, it wasn’t for a sightseeing excursion or beach getaway. It was to help a developing community with a sustainable engineering project as a member of the Aggies Without Limits.

“Guatemala was my first time traveling internationally, and it was a humble experience helping a community have access to water, a basic human need,” says Ibanez, Aggies Without Limits president. “We traveled to Guatemala in May of 2019 to build a potable water system for a rural community of 350 members. Despite the hardships and obstacles and with the support from the community, we finished the project ahead of schedule.”

Founded in 2007, Aggies Without Limits, a student nonprofit organization in the College of Engineering, works on local and international projects each year. While
COVID-19 altered the group’s plans for 2020, Kenny Stevens, Engineering Technology professor and Aggies Without Limits adviser, says he was proud of how the members responded and found other ways to help.

In summer 2020, Aggies Without Limits members helped the Boys & Girls Club of Alamogordo, New Mexico, build a 400-foot fence and two 90-foot retaining walls to create a secure area for children to play. During fall 2020, Aggies Without Limits members also worked on a pedestrian bridge for the Alamogordo Fairgrounds with a projected completion date in November 2020.

“There’s no shortage of enthusiasm, even though it’s 70 miles away instead of 7,000 miles away,” Stevens says. “It takes away some of the romance from it, but in the terms of the students who want to do something for somebody else, it hasn’t slowed them down.”

Even though the summer 2020 trip to Oyanca, Nicaragua, was postponed, the Aggies Without Limits members continued to work from Las Cruces on a project to improve the efficiency of hydraulic ram pumps to provide residents with potable water. The group advised residents on material lists and corresponded via email.

Oyanca is the fifth project for Aggies Without Limits in Nicaragua. Projects in other international locations have included Puerto Rico, Bolivia and Mexico. Local projects for the group have included establishing a community for homeless veterans with Foxhole Homes, an organization in Alamogordo, improving the campground at Camp Hope in Las Cruces and helping to re-establish a food system and working at a local community center in Anthony, New Mexico.

While the Aggies Without Limits began as an engineering organization about half of the group’s members are from other disciplines including Ibanez, an early childhood education senior at NMSU.

“Helping people with AWL projects makes me feel empowered to help make a difference in local and international communities,” she says. “Motivates me to do more for those who are less fortunate and pass on the knowledge I gain to others.”

Membership isn’t restricted to students, interested alumni and community members can join Aggies Without Limits. To learn more visit aggieswithoutlimits.org.

Member of Aggies Without Limits helped the Boys & Girls Club of Alamogordo, New Mexico, build a fence and two retaining walls in summer 2020 to create a secure area for children to play.

While COVID-19 concerns postponed international travel, Aggies Without Limits members worked on a pedestrian bridge for the Alamogordo Fairgrounds in fall 2020.