June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Design in Engineering Education
12.691.1 - 12.691.13
e-Teaming with Developing Nations: Social Outreach with an Entrepreneurial Twist Abstract
The World Bank estimates that over 2.8 billion people live in poverty, earning less than $2/day. Financial assistance alone has not been able to solve the problems generated by poverty in a sustainable way. We are testing the hypothesis that the teaching of product design principles together with basic entrepreneurship skills might be a way to provide longer-lasting solutions. These ideas are based on the premise that although cash might be the most pressing need of the poor, the most vital need is the acquisition of income generation skills. Major challenges arose in the initial testing stage, from the formidable physical and cultural distances that separate the design engineer/teacher from their intended customers in developing nations, to the lack of “ground truth” information to guide the design process. For this reason, over the past two years E105:, Product Design for the Developing World, a Development Engineering course at Caltech, has evolved to include e-Teams as an integral element in its curriculum. The e-Teams bring together students from the US and industrial design and agricultural students from a developing nation. The US engineering students contribute their fast prototyping and analytical problem solving skills while the foreign students contribute their familiarity with poorly defined markets and add cultural sensitivity to the e-Team designs. The students deal with strong constraints on product costs and pricing, evaluate the availability of local materials and the lack of manufacturing and product standards. The e-Team members work together through a variety of electronic communication technologies: Video-conferencing, video streaming, Instant Messaging, Internet telephony, e-mail and web-groups. These electronic tools, which play a role at various levels in the design process, are briefly discussed.
A new effort to find solutions to extreme poverty around the world is taking place at various academic institutions around the United States. A new discipline is emerging, which we will refer here as “Development Engineering”. In some instances, such as at Caltech, it is the students who initiated the effort to create relevant curricula. These efforts have been channeled towards the creation of a new course, E105, Product Design for the Developing World, at Caltech over the last three years. The course gives engineering and design students the opportunity to be creative and to take active leadership roles, exposing them to social, ethical, and political issues that will prepare them to be industrial and community leaders in a world increasingly influenced by issues raised by globalization.
Similar efforts are taking place at MIT [3-6], while at other institutions, such as Georgia Tech, these efforts take a complementary approach in what we now know as “Sustainable Engineering”. Sustainable Engineering emphasis is on conservation and balance of problems brought about in a post-industrial society, problems such as pollution, unmanageable urban sprawl, natural resource conservation, and etcetera. Sustainability seeks to create "... development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs..." . Examples of sustainability include solid waste management and recycling, water saving landscaping, green technologies, and product reuse
Blanco, M., & Pickar, K., & Delgado, L. M., & Arce, O., & Kranski, J., & Herrera, F., & MacVean, C. (2007, June), Eteaming With Developing Nations: Social Outreach With An Entrepreneurial Twist Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2830
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015