June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Engineering Leadership Development Division
Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries (CEDC) is a student-driven service-oriented program whose mission is to provide sustainable, engineered solutions to communities in the developing world. One of the most successful features of CEDC, from both undergraduate education and community development perspectives, is the structured and innovative internship experience. In addition to in-class student participation in design, planning, and project implementation, a few students are selected annually for an internship in the host community where they have the opportunity to develop and enhance their leadership skills in an international and diverse setting. The internship program consists of Clemson University engineering students living in rural Haiti for 6-12 months, where they lead infrastructure projects around their host community with a team of local Haitian foremen, skilled workers, and general laborers. While many other programs and student organizations provide leadership experience in a classroom context through capstone projects and extra-curricular activities, CEDC interns are tasked with working with local citizens towards a common goal and tangible results. Interns are supported by CEDC’s unique organizational structure that allows students in the classroom to lead design projects that are implemented by the interns in Haiti, with supervision from industry advisors in the United States. CEDC’s project-oriented framework provides students real-world responsibility and accountability for small construction projects that are implemented in Haiti. This real world responsibility enables the development of leadership skills by allowing students to fully immerse themselves in a project’s success or failure in a scaffolded setting. This paper discusses the perspectives and skill sets gained from the internship for both interns and students on campus, including significant leadership development and the ability to engage with people and work within a community across cultures and backgrounds to execute a project. Supporting data, collected by surveying former CEDC interns to better understand their experiences and leadership development in the program, will be presented. The authors build on lessons learned to provide suggestions of how the program could be replicated to provide similar leadership experiences at other academic institutions or within other student organizations.
Gordon, A. S., & Plumblee, J. M., & Dancz, C. L. A. (2017, June), Developing Leadership through an Immersive Service-Oriented International Internship Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28145
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