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Community Development & Engineering: Perspectives On Interdisciplinary Projects In Honduras

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Case Studies, Engineering Education and Outcome Assessment Around the Globe

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.295.1 - 15.295.23



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Paper Authors


Dan Baker The University of Vermont

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Daniel Baker is an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Community Development and Applied Economics at the University of Vermont. He specializes in participatory and collaborative projects between academic institutions and community groups -- in international, regional, and local settings. With a background in technology transfer, agricultural economic and business analysis, he is engaged in numerous projects throughout Honduras. He is also a PI for a multi-year grant investigating agricultural labor practices in Vermont.

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John Merrill The Ohio State University

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John A. Merrill is the Director for the First-Year Engineering Program at The Ohio State University College of Engineering. His responsibilities include operations, faculty and graduate student recruiting, curriculum management, student retention, and program assessment. Dr. Merrill received his Ph.D. in Instructional Design and Technology from The Ohio State University in 1985, and is a two-time recipient of the College of Engineering’s Boyer Award for Excellence in Teaching.

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David Munoz Colorado School of Mines

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Associate Professor, Division of Engineering, and Director of Humanitarian Engineering at Colorado School of Mines (CSM). He also holds the Ph.D. and MSME degrees from Purdue University and the BSME from the University of New Mexico. Dr. Muñoz has taught numerous thermal-fluids and design engineering courses. He has advised several hundred undergraduates in senior design projects that include hybrid electric vehicles through potable water and waste water treatment systems for Honduras. His research interests include issues of energy systems and engineering design related to global sustainability.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


Community Development & Engineering: Perspectives on interdisciplinary projects in Honduras Introduction

Sustainable community development is complex and dynamic. Engagement in the practical aspects of this field presents great challenges and opportunities for academic institutions. Addressing the needs of rural communities requires high-levels of interdisciplinary coordination and integration, as well as the commitment of time to understand the context of particular problems and the impact of interventions. The challenge and opportunities of rural development, particularly in the developing world, attract faculty and students from higher education, who then must address the real constraints faced by engaging in long-term trans-disciplinary projects. This panel discussion summarizes the experience of three university service-learning programs engaging in community development in rural and peri-urban Honduras from different disciplinary starting points and who have shared information along the way. The program at the University of Vermont started as a series of community development and added engineering components and expertise over time. The Ohio State University and Colorado School of Mines began their respective work through the College of Engineering and encountered challenges requiring the “soft-skills” of community development disciplines. The latter developed a minor called humanitarian engineering to help prepare interested students for the practicum to follow. Over time the programs have sought to learn from each other’s experience and move toward more trans-disciplinary approaches. The lessons learned and challenges gained through these experiences will be summarized in this paper.

Context, Objectives and Approach

This paper considers three case studies describing the integration of engineering and community development. The first two cases were implemented through engineering programs and over time have sought out the skills of community development. The third case presented is a community development program that has increasingly developed an engineering orientation. Over the course of ten years the projects have moved through different project phases illustrating the interplay between the disciplinary skills.

The desire of engineers to apply their skills to the problems of international development has gained momentum in the past decade This is supported by the substantial growth in both the number and size of what might be called “engineering for development” programs, including large, multi-institutional programs like Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), as well as programs primarily located within a single institution, such

Baker, D., & Merrill, J., & Munoz, D. (2010, June), Community Development & Engineering: Perspectives On Interdisciplinary Projects In Honduras Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16820

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