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Developing Global Engineering Competency Through Participation in “Engineers Without Borders”

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.500.1 - 26.500.14



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Paper Authors


Stephanie Marie Kusano Virginia Tech

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Stephanie Kusano is a postdoctoral research fellow from George Mason University Department of Applied Information Technology. She received her Ph.D. in Engineering Education in 2014, B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2010 and her M.S. in Biomedical Engineering in 2012, all from Virginia Tech. Her research interests include non-curricular learning, informal learning, design education, and students' professional development. Her teaching experience has primarily been with first-year engineering workshops.

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Aditya Johri George Mason University Orcid 16x16

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Aditya Johri is Associate Professor and Chair in the Applied Information Technology Department. Dr. Johri studies the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for learning and knowledge sharing, with a focus on cognition in informal environments. He also examine the role of ICT in supporting distributed work among globally dispersed workers and in furthering social development in emerging economies. He received the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Early Career Award in 2009. He is co-editor of the Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research (CHEER) published by Cambridge University Press, New York, NY. Dr. Johri earned his Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Technology Design at Stanford University and a B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering at Delhi College of Engineering.

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Developing Global Competency through Extracurricular Activities: A Case Study of Student Participation in Engineers Without BordersMotivation & BackgroundGraduating engineering students that have the competencies to work in a global context hasbecome a pressing need for engineering programs. Study abroad programs, virtual globalcourses, and courses and modules focused on engineering for a global society, are allpedagogical approaches to improving engineering students’ global competencies. Extracurricularactivities, such as Engineers Without Borders (EWB), offer students an opportunity to beimmersed with global engineering challenges throughout students’ undergraduate careerswithout interrupting curricular obligations. The purpose of this study was to better understandengineering students’ experiences in an extracurricular activity focused on global engineeringissues. Understanding participating students’ perspectives can help identify the affordancesand/or barriers of EWB that most influence students’ development as global engineers.MethodologySpecifically, this study investigated a group of students voluntarily participating in EngineersWithout Borders (EWB) at a large research-oriented state institution. Qualitative methods wereused to understand students’ experiences of students regularly and actively participating in anEWB project. An external researcher conducted naturalistic observations, interview, and focusgroup discussions. The primary purpose of this investigation was to understand students’experiences, rather than to measure learning outcomes, justifying a qualitative approach.ResultsRecruitment issues, perceived time commitment, and gaps in knowledge transfer betweenoutgoing and incoming student members, were salient barriers to the sustainable success ofEWB. However, once students commit to an EWB project, EWB serves as an example of howengineering students can be exposed to educational yet authentic global engineering experiencesin ways that are meaningful and impactful to each student. Consistently active student membersexhibited an awareness and capacity to work productively within the boundaries of an unfamiliarcultural context, successfully communicating and achieving the defined goals and tasks, as wellas exhibiting capacity to work across disciplinary and cultural boundaries to achieve a commongoal.

Kusano, S. M., & Johri, A. (2015, June), Developing Global Engineering Competency Through Participation in “Engineers Without Borders” Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23839

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