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Community Engagement in the Developing World

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Impact of Community Engagement on Communities

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.293.1 - 24.293.13



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Paper Authors


William M. Jordan Baylor University

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WILLIAM JORDAN is the Mechanical Engineering Department Chair at Baylor University. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Metallurgical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, an M.A. degree in Theology from Denver Seminary, and a Ph.D. in mechanics and materials from Texas A & M University. He teaches materials related courses. He does work in the area of mechanical behavior of composite materials. He is also interested in entrepreneurship and appropriate technology in developing countries.

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Community Engagement in the Developing WorldOur university has a long standing program encouraging service projects in the developingworld. Our engineering program has been involved with this since 2005.We have done projects in Kenya, Rwanda, Honduras, and Haiti. In each of the countries ourengagement with the local community in the area has been different. The level of engagementhas had a significant impact upon the sustainability of the projects. Our model for how best todo this engagement has changed as we have learned from experience.We have learned that for our projects to be sustainable there needs first to be a partnership with alocal organization who can sustain the technology after we have left. We also need to develop amechanism within our university where we can sustain the program itself.In Kenya we worked with one local group, but did not maintain contact with them very well afterthe project was over. The technology no longer worked after a couple of years. The problemwas not the technology, but our lack of involving the local community in a sufficient way forthem to have a stake in the technology still working.Our projects in Honduras involved different types of student involvement. Some of them werevolunteers doing this not for credit. The student leader did this as part of his Master’s project.We were involved with a local group that initially appeared very interested. However they werenot interested in turning the project into a sustainable business.In Rwanda we have worked with a local church denomination that is very interested in workingwith us. Some of the projects were not sustained as there was a change in local leadership at theschool where we had done projects. However, each year we ask the local Bishop what he wantsdone and concentrate on doing something that fulfills his goals for his people. This workingmodel where we work with the local leadership, rather than doing something for them, has greatpotential. One sustainable issue we still have is the high cost of taking a student group to Africa.While we wish to continue the work in Rwanda, we believed we needed to also do projects morelocally where we could more easily involve more students.Two of our professors have a long standing relationship with a local non-profit group that hasbeen in Haiti for 20 years. Adding technology projects to the other projects they already doappears to be a logical step. They are intimately involved with the local people which will makea big difference. In May 2013 we did a solar project that was well received. We worked side byside with local Haitians on portions of the project. This work has great promise for beingsustainable, for it is working with (not for) the local people and is close enough to the UnitedStates so that its costs are more manageable.

Jordan, W. M. (2014, June), Community Engagement in the Developing World Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20184

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