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Engineering For The Developing World Course Gives Students International Experience

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Preparing Engineers for the Global Workplace

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Page Count


Page Numbers

12.637.1 - 12.637.11



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Paper Authors


Angela Bielefeldt University of Colorado at Boulder

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Dr. Bielefeldt is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, & Architectural Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is also the Director for the Environmental Engineering (EVEN) Program that administers the multi-disciplinary, ABET-accredited B.S. degree in EVEN. She is also one of the faculty involved with the Engineering for Developing Communities (EDC) program at the graduate and undergraduate level.

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Bernard Amadei University of Colorado at Boulder

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Dr. Amadei is Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His current interests cover the topics of sustainability, green construction, and international development. Prof. Amadei started a new program in Engineering for Developing Communities. Its overall mission is to educate globally responsible engineering students and professionals who can offer sustainable and appropriate solutions to the endemic problems faced by developing communities worldwide. Dr Amadei is also the Founding President of Engineers Without Borders – USA and the co-founder of the Engineers Without Borders-International network.

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Robyn Sandekian University of Colorado at Boulder

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Robyn Sandekian has degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado. She is currently the coordinator for the Engineering for Developing Communities Program, and also the Service Learning Program coordinator for the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado - Boulder. She has co-taught courses on appropriate and sustainable technology.

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

Engineering for the Developing World Course gives Students International Experience


A new course, Engineering for the Developing World (EDW), has been taught since fall 2005. The course goals include: (i) introduce students to open ended problems at the community level; (ii) help students develop the skills to solve those problems and provide holistic engineering solutions that are sustainable and appropriate to the community being served; (iii) help students develop cultural and social awareness; (iv) help students work in interdisciplinary teams; (v) give students the opportunity to reflect on the importance of their community service; (vi) give students a professional work ethic, and (vii) help students gain a better understanding of the importance of engineering in society and in community development. Two different models for the course have been used: in year one, a single team of three students worked on two different projects for a community in Rwanda over two semesters, earning six credits that could be applied as technical electives in their respective majors. In year two, twelve students in three teams worked on a wastewater treatment/reuse design for a community in Sonora, Mexico. In this format, students earned 3 to 4 credits for the course, which counted as the capstone design experience in their curricula. The students self-selected this international project from among three project options (the other two were service learning projects within the state) in the capstone Environmental Engineering design class. Student evaluations of the EDW course are presented and contrasted against feedback from students who worked on other service learning projects or a traditional civil engineering project.

Motivation for Capstone Design Experiences

Design experience is an important part of the engineering curriculum. The ABET 2005-2006 accreditation criteria for engineering programs1 indicate this importance via criterion c: “Engineering programs must demonstrate that graduates have (c) an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.” The list of specific constraints noted by ABET has grown over time. Capstone design courses also have the ability to teach a variety of the other ABET-specified skills and abilities, many of which are difficult to incorporate into traditional engineering courses. Examples include multidisciplinary teamwork (criterion d), an ability to engage in life-long learning (criterion i), and others2.

Professional engineering societies have added other criteria to the so-called “body of knowledge” related to their field, many of which are optimally taught in a capstone design course context. For example, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Body Of Knowledge (BOK) outcomes were expanded to include an understanding of project management, business and public policy, and leadership principles and attitudes3. These elements are readily incorporated into a capstone design experience where the student team is a simulated consulting firm working on a real project for a real client.

Bielefeldt, A., & Amadei, B., & Sandekian, R. (2007, June), Engineering For The Developing World Course Gives Students International Experience Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1922

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