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Lessons Implemented On An International Service Learning Project

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Engineering Without Borders Programs Involving Students

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.882.1 - 11.882.15



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Paper Authors


Rachel Husfeld Valparaiso University

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RACHEL HUSFELD served as the 2005 student president of the Valparaiso University chapter of Engineers Without Borders. Originally from Houston, Texas, she is a senior civil engineering major graduating in May 2006. Rachel plans to pursue a master’s degree in structural engineering beginning in the fall of 2006.

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Carmine Polito Valparaiso University

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CARMINE POLITO is the Frederick F. Jenny, Jr. Professor of Emerging Technology at Valparaiso University, where he has taught civil engineering courses for the last five years. He serves as a faculty advisor to the Valparaiso University chapter of Engineers Without Borders.

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Elizabeth Gingerich Valparaiso University

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ELIZABETH GINGERICH is an Assistant Professor of Business Law in Valparaiso University's School of Business Administration. She serves as a faculty advisor and fundraising coordinator for the Valparaiso University Chapter of Engineers Without Borders and has lead the efforts which have raised over $140,000 to help implement the three stages of the project.

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

Lessons Implemented on an International Service Learning Project Abstract

In May 2005, the Valparaiso University Chapter of Engineers Without Borders completed the second phase of a three-year water supply and irrigation project in a remote village located in northwestern Kenya. In this project phase, the lessons learned by group members during the first project phase and the May 2004 trip were implemented and new lessons were learned.

The project site is located Nakor, an extremely arid village in the Turkana region of northwestern Kenya. The project aims to establish a clean, reliable drinking water supply for the community and provide water to gardens through drip irrigation. Attaining this goal requires engineering design and planning throughout the year by students and mentors who subsequently travel to Kenya to drill wells and install windmills, hand pumps, and drip irrigation systems. Turkana natives work together with the Engineers Without Borders members to construct all aspects of the project. By partnering to develop a simple, cost-effective food source, the villagers learn how to maintain the irrigation systems and initiate new systems in an area which receives less than three inches of rainfall a year.

Two of the authors traveled to the site in May 2005 with a group comprised of 13 students, 11 of whom were engineering majors, and five adult mentors, to implement the second project phase. This phase incorporated drilling and irrigation improvements, collecting GPS data to create a topographic map of the community, performing a health survey, and teaching students at the local elementary school about the mechanics of the project. During both the design and construction phases, the lessons learned in 2004 about service engineering projects in general, and about working in a remote portion of a foreign country specifically, were implemented. The lessons implemented included a stronger focus on pre-trip planning, organization, and student training. Other lessons implemented involved strengthening the communication with the host community and within the project team, remaining flexible as plans frequently changed, and building relationships with local community members.

The second phase of the project was carried out with much less difficulty than the first. This paper will compare the results of the first project phase with those of the second, and identify how implementing the lessons learned positively impacted the second project phase. Additionally, other factors that contributed to the success of the 2005 project will be identified and analyzed.

The next project phase, which will be performed in May 2006, will continue the work completed thus far, while incorporating new system improvements as well as lessons that continue to be learned throughout the project experience. Those who aspire to carry out international service learning projects can learn from the experiences to be included in the paper.


In May 2005, a group of students from the Valparaiso University Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-VU) returned to the village of Nakor, Turkana, Kenya to continue the water

Husfeld, R., & Polito, C., & Gingerich, E. (2006, June), Lessons Implemented On An International Service Learning Project Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--608

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