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Establishing Entrepreneurial Opportunities For The Developing World Using Engineering Design

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Opportunities and Challenges in Developing International Engineering Research

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.524.1 - 15.524.14



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Paper Authors

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Kevin McGarvey Rowan University

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Michael Panko Rowan University

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Michael Kerbaugh Rowan University

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Gabriel Posluszny Rowan University

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Beena Sukumaran Rowan University

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Anthony Cavalier Rowan University

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

Establishing Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Developing Countries using Engineering Design


This paper describes a program titled “Engineering Innovators without Borders” (EIWB), which works in close collaboration with Engineers without Borders (EWB). The main mission of EIWB is to redesign and develop devices that have market potential and will improve the quality of life in developing countries, while providing entrepreneurial opportunities. In addition, these devices have to be economically and socially sustainable and produced using locally available materials. This has been done utilizing multidisciplinary engineering student teams and has been successfully implemented through the curricular avenue of Junior and Senior Engineering Clinics at Rowan University. The engineering students perform a survey of local communities in developing countries, identified as having a need for engineering skills by Engineers without Borders. During this initial survey, the students identify local entrepreneurial opportunities that require redesign or development of a device that will enhance the quality of life of the local area. The students then work on modifying or designing the device using local materials and input from the local community. Some examples of projects undertaken include development of a human powered grain crusher and a tree climber. The grain crusher being designed at Rowan University has undergone many revisions to make it more affordable and sustainable based on pilot studies and end-user feedback. It can be powered easily by a single person and therefore can utilize human energy for crushing grains efficiently. The second project currently in progress is a palm tree climber. The tree climber will provide a safer alternative to the traditional climbing method used in coconut harvesting, which is to climb with little or no safety equipment or aids. The tree climber has been designed to attach quickly and easily to the tree without damaging the trunk. Both these devices are being developed to be locally produced inexpensively from readily available materials. The students gain a valuable perspective on designing engineering products for developing countries including cultural and economic considerations, sustainability, material and resource availability.


“Engineering Innovators without Borders” has been a project at Rowan University since the Fall of 2006. The project began as a means to develop new entrepreneurial opportunities to individuals and businesses in developing countries. Rowan University is a strong proponent of experiential learning, a “bottom-up” method in which general lessons and principles are learned through direct personal experiences and observations. Active modes of learning can enrich, broaden and deepen the knowledge base, which is gained from readings and class lectures1,2,3. The system used at Rowan is called Engineering Clinics. This is an eight semester project based series of courses which are a requirement of all engineering students for graduation. It can be seen in the following sections that experiential learning is a hallmark of Rowan’s engineering curriculum, which will be utilized for these projects. Professionalism and “Real-Life” engineering practices are emphasized in a multidisciplinary environment, similar to the environment that may be encountered by many engineering students after graduation. The layout of the Engineering Clinic program can be seen in Table 1.

McGarvey, K., & Panko, M., & Kerbaugh, M., & Posluszny, G., & Sukumaran, B., & Cavalier, A. (2010, June), Establishing Entrepreneurial Opportunities For The Developing World Using Engineering Design Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16188

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