Asee peer logo

Lessons Learned From An International Service Learning Project

Download Paper |


2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

New Endeavors

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.891.1 - 10.891.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Carmine Polito

author page

Rachel Husfeld

Download Paper |

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

Lessons Learned From An International Service Learning Project

Carmine Polito and Rachel Husfeld Department of Civil Engineering, Valparaiso University/ Student President, Engineers Without Borders-Valparaiso University Chapter


In May of 2004, a group of students from the Valparaiso University chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-VU) undertook a trip to the village of Nakor, Kenya with the goal of constructing a water supply and irrigation system they had designed. While the project was successful, numerous problems were encountered in its implementation. These challenges resulted in the group learning several important lessons, which will not only be applied to future trips to the village, but can also be applied to other international service projects.

After a brief explanation of the goals and philosophies of Engineers Without Borders, a description of the project and its implementation will be provided. The project description will be followed by a discussion of the lessons learned and a description of the manner in which these lessons will be applied by EWB-VU during future trips to the village.

Engineers Without Borders

The project described in this paper was conducted under the auspices of the Valparaiso University Chapter of Engineers Without Borders. With its national headquarters in Colorado, Engineers Without Borders (EWB-USA) is a non-profit organization established to help people in developing areas worldwide with their engineering needs by involving, and simultaneously training, internationally responsible engineering students. EWB projects typically include the design and construction of water, wastewater, water purification, sanitation, energy, and shelter systems. Projects are initiated by, and completed with, contributions from the host community, which is then trained to operate the systems without external assistance.

Because EWB projects are intended to be self-sustaining, they are designed to be as simple as possible. Utilizing a simplistic project design facilitates the transfer of knowledge of the project construction and maintenance to the local people, who often lack even the most basic mechanical training. Additionally, the projects emphasize the use of materials that are available to the local people. This is done to simplify the maintenance of the project should replacement parts become necessary and simplify its reproduction should a nearby community desire to replicate the project. This transfer of technology to the local people and the use of locally available materials are key elements to the EWB philosophy of sustainability.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Polito, C., & Husfeld, R. (2005, June), Lessons Learned From An International Service Learning Project Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14497

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: © 2005 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