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Milking the Rhino: Innovative Solutions Showcase: Promoting Ethics Education, User-Centered Design, and Social Entrepreneurship in the Global Context

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Sustainability and Humanitarian Engineering

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1064.1 - 22.1064.15



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Paper Authors


Khanjan Mehta Penn State University

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Khanjan Mehta is the Director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program at Penn State University. His professional interests include innovative system integration, high-tech entrepreneurship and international social entrepreneurship. Khanjan loves connecting concepts, people, computers and devices. A basic philosophy behind his work is the convergence of disciplines, concepts, cultures, and countries to create a freer, friendlier, fairer and more sustainable planet. He has led social ventures in Kenya, Tanzania, India, China, and other countries.

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Duarte B. Morais North Carolina State University


Yu Zhao Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Yu Zhao is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Educational and School Psychology and Special Education at the Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include educational measurement and assessment. She is also interested in applications of item response theory and structural equation modeling in educational testing.

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Mary Lynn Brannon Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Mary Lynn Brannon, Instructional Support Specialist at the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education at the Pennsylvania State University, has a Master of Arts Degree in Education and Human Development specializing in Educational Technology Leadership. Her work focuses on projects that measure and assess student perceptions of learning related to their experiences with engineering course innovations. She is a faculty development consultant with previous experience in instructional design and instructor of the Graduate Assistant Seminar for engineering teaching assistants.

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Sarah E. Zappe Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Dr. Sarah Zappe is Director of Assessment and Instructional Support in the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education at Penn State. She holds a masters and a doctorate in educational psychology, where she specialized in applied testing and measurement. Her current research interests include the use of qualitative information, such as think-alouds, to enhance validity evidence for a test. She is also interested in developing instruments to measure engineering professional skills such as global awareness, communication, and leadership.

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Milking the Rhino - Innovative Solutions Showcase: Promoting ethicseducation, user-centered design and social entrepreneurship in the globalcontext.Milking the Rhino is an award-winning documentary that examines environmental conservationfrom the perspective of people who live with wildlife and offers a complex, intimate portrait oftwo community-based conservation efforts in Kenya and Namibia. The Cornfield StateUniversity developed and hosted a competition called Milking the Rhino: Innovative SolutionsShowcase and invited students to develop appropriate, innovative and sustainable solutions toempower indigenous communities to leverage wildlife and natural resources for self-determineddevelopment in Africa.The showcase was created for students from all majors and backgrounds as a venue to fostercritical thinking about sustainable community development and environmental conservation inAfrica. We wanted students to explore the ethical intricacies of globalization and loss ofindigenous cultures, and the role technology plays in fostering and hurting sustainable self-determined development. We wanted students to fuse indigenous knowledge and lifestyles withwestern knowledge systems to create sustainable value through appropriate technologicalsolutions.User-centered design (UCD) is an approach to design that grounds the design process ininformation about the people who will use the product. UCD processes focus on users throughthe planning, design and development of a product. The showcase focused on attempting tounderstand the context of use and the specific requirements to develop technology-basedsolutions that address some of the challenges faced by the Maasai and Himba tribes inKenya/Tanzania and Namibia respectively. An explicit goal was to teach students to unravel the“sticky information” related to the context of the problem. Sticky information refers toinformation that is difficult to replicate and diffuse because it is embodied in the people, places,organizations, societal constructs, and other contextual entities. The sticky information, includingan understanding of the various power relations, helps identify key stakeholders, marginalizedstakeholders, constraints and resources to be considered in the design process leading toinnovative and sustainable solutions.Twelve student teams, consisting of students from engineering, health and human development,business, agriculture, and other colleges developed three-minute (YouTube) video pitches. Thepitches addressed specific problems related to the indigenous peoples' livelihoods, includingwildlife and natural resource management, ethics, access to income, famine, gender inequity, andhuman rights. Video pitches were rated by an interdisciplinary five-member expert panel basedon the teams' understanding of the context and the problem; the quality andAPPROPRIATENESS of their solution with specific emphasis on innovation, economicsustainability and potential for large-scale impact and the quality of their video pitch.This paper discusses the rationale and mechanics of the showcase, the key ethical issues that theteams grappled with, the solutions developed by the students, and (focus group) assessmentresults on the educational impact of the competition. Overall, the competition was successful inbringing compelling ethical design issues in the global arena into the classroom. Based on thesuccess of the inaugural competition, the competition will be held again this year with about 25-30 teams expected to participate.

Mehta, K., & Morais, D. B., & Zhao, Y., & Brannon, M. L., & Zappe, S. E. (2011, June), Milking the Rhino: Innovative Solutions Showcase: Promoting Ethics Education, User-Centered Design, and Social Entrepreneurship in the Global Context Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18602

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