New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Our students are becoming more interested in developing skills that allow them to be global engineers. In addition, some faculty have personal desires to make a difference in developing countries and see such opportunities as beneficial to the growth of their students. Presently, organizations such as Engineers Without Borders (EWB) provide opportunities to undergraduates. However, many students are unaware of these or are busy with classwork or are building their resumes in other ways. The addition of an elective course focused on such work can open these opportunities to all students.
To address this need, an Appropriate Technology course was designed to explore both the technical and humanitarian prowess necessary to positively increase quality of life and promote innovation in the developing world. Our goal was to prepare students to effectively participate in humanitarian work in developing countries.
The course was designed to encompass the topics of most urgency in developing countries including water treatment and infrastructure, sanitation and energy. The course was taught by three faculty members and a consulting engineer. The expertise of the faculty spanned civil and environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering. In addition, each faculty member had some limited amount of experience overseas. The consulting engineer had extensive experience with EWB teams and in developing engineering solutions worldwide.
The concept of “Do No Harm” was woven throughout the course by exposing students to international case studies. One class per week was dedicated to considering success of humanitarian engineering projects and the unfortunate frequency of failed – though well-intended – projects. Assignments forced the students to reflect upon positives and negatives and incorporate the best in their plans. Additionally, the students were challenged to develop a design and prototype to transport water from a creek on campus considering appropriateness and sustainability in their designs.
We measured our effectiveness in teaching the “Do No Harm” concept and engineering in the context of the developing world. We evaluated our success using evaluations and course surveys. We were particularly interested in gauging changes in students’ perceptions about the impact engineers can have in working with developing communities. The outcomes from our experience and assessment can serve as a reference to other instructors considering incorporating appropriate technology into new or existing courses to suit student, instructor and institute interests.
Marincel Payne, M., & Padgett, W. T., & Mech, A. R. (2016, June), Insights Gained from the First Teaching of a Multidisciplinary Appropriate Technology Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27314
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