Student designs footbridge in Kenya with 'IKEA manual'

Belgian student wins award with design that comes to the rescue of Kenyans


Ir. Aushim Koumar graduated from Vrije Universiteit Brussel as a structural engineer in 2012. In his master’s thesis he devised a solution for transformable footbridges for isolated communities in developing countries.


Aushim’s research earned two different awards. He received the Millennium Development Goal Award 2011-2012 for his original research work, which made an exceptional contribution to sustainable development in the South.


He also won the IE prize for the most deserving thesis by a Flemish student of engineering sciences and bioengineering sciences within the category Infrastructure and Mobility.

Both juries highly appreciated the thesis due to its strong social factor, its simplicity and its great practical applicability. For instance, Aushim Koumar’s construction manual is based on IKEA assembly instructions. 


Institutionele Universitaire Samenwerking met Moi UniversityWilly De Wilde (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) explains how the idea came about in the margins of the Institutional University Cooperation with Moi University (Kenya). Within that cooperation professor De Wilde was the Flemish project leader on the Capacity Building for Teaching Research and Extension in Civil and Structural Engineering project (phase 1):


‘I met Dr. J. Aluoch during a trip as part of the VLIR-UOS program. He told us about the need for mobile, reusable footbridges in his region and elsewhere in Kenya. I decided to use this as a project for a few master’s theses at Moi University and VUB.’


The article 'Four-dimensional design and analysis of modular footbridges in developing countries’ is based on the research in Kenya. Download the article on

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