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Engineering Students Apply Their Skills To Community Service: Efforts In Uganda, Africa

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Technical Capacity Bldg for Developing Countries & Service Learning

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.523.1 - 13.523.17



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Paper Authors

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Lauri Burke Colorado School of Mines

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Barbara Moskal Colorado School of Mines

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

Engineering Students Apply Their Skills to Community Service: Efforts in Uganda, Africa


This paper describes the first semester of scholarship recipient participation in the National Science Foundation Scholarship Program at Colorado School of Mines. This four year program uses international community service to recruit and retain students in mathematics, computer science, and engineering. This program provides undergraduate and graduate students with scholarship support throughout their degree program, mentorship from senior engineering students and faculty, and assistance in mathematics, computer science, and engineering career placement after graduation. Each year of the program, the scholarship recipients complete a real world, multidisciplinary humanitarian engineering project, which provides experience in their field of study. Projects for the academic year 2007-2008 are being completed in collaboration with a non-profit organization, Into Your Hands, and are designed to benefit St. Denis Secondary School in Uganda, Africa. This paper describes the design of the NSF Scholarship program, and the activities and outcomes to date, including benefits to the participating scholarship recipients and to the community served.


As a result of the overall decrease in enrollment in engineering and the economic expansion that has resulted from technological advancements, the U.S. is experiencing a shortage of trained mathematicians, computer scientists and engineers, a problem that has persisted for more than a decade. In 1998, the U.S. government responded by increasing the annual number of temporary, professional-worker visas from 65,000 to 115,000 for a three year period in the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 19981. The rational behind this Act was to recruit foreign talent in areas of national need. The number of professional-worker visas was increased for another three year period2, to 195,000, through the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000. By 2004, it was hoped that the availability of U.S. trained mathematicians, computer scientists and engineers would increase to the level needed to fill the available positions. Since this hope never materialized, a new initiative is underway, the American Competitiveness Initiative of 2006. This initiative dedicates $136 billion over ten years to improving education, research, and development in science and engineering in the United States, of which $5.9 billion was budgeted for 20073. This approach differs from prior efforts in that this Act seeks to increase the pipeline of U.S. trained mathematicians, scientists and engineers. Once students are recruited to these fields, the next step is to retain them until the completion of their degrees.

Concerns have also been raised in the U.S. with regard to the preparation of its students to participate in and contribute to a global community4. Toward this goal, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has established accreditation criterion 3h, which states that engineering programs need to provide an education that supports “...the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context” (3h).5 The United States National Academies, which consist

Burke, L., & Moskal, B. (2008, June), Engineering Students Apply Their Skills To Community Service: Efforts In Uganda, Africa Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3177

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