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Learning about Globalization and Sustainability: The Engineers Without Borders Challenge Goes International

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 4

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This work-in-progress paper presents the current state of the implementation of an international service learning course project in Germany and the USA, the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Challenge. The connected research analyzes the effects of the EWB Challenge on the participating students with qualitative and quantitative evaluation methods. In addition, the responsible teachers’ experiences are discussed and best practices are derived for future implementation.

Globalization and sustainability are key challenges of the 21st century. Especially today, it is more important than ever to address and raise awareness for these topics in higher education (e.g. for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)), as the period of studies is a crucial time for young people, in which societal and social understanding is formed to a great extent. An innovative approach for universities to spread knowledge among students about the SDGs and to sensitize students to the concept of civic engagement is the EWB Challenge. Within this course concept, real-life problems related to development cooperation in developing countries are integrated into lectures. Within the challenge it is the students’ task to find feasible solutions for given design tasks. The focus is on the practical implementation of solutions and the construction of a prototype, which will then be presented at a joint closing event. The most promising solutions are selected by EWB and implemented in the respective countries.

Two leading technical universities (RWTH Aachen University and TU Dortmund University) have been implementing the EWB Challenge successfully in their courses since 2013. In 2018/19 the EWB Challenge consortium is joined by four other German Universities. In order to not only talking about globalization, but also making it directly tangible, students from the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia (UGA) are joining the EWB Challenge in 2018/19, too. Mixed international student teams from RWTH Aachen University and UGA work remotely together on the design problems and will present them at the final event in Germany using modern videoconferencing equipment. In addition, solely American teams also take part in the Challenge and enter the competition with the international teams and German student groups. Therefore, the ‘look beyond the horizon’ becomes a learning experience for all participating students and teachers.

(2019, June), Learning about Globalization and Sustainability: The Engineers Without Borders Challenge Goes International Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida.

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