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Need Definition For International Humanitarian Design Projects: A Contextual Needs Assessment Case Study For Remote Power

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Multinational and International Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.923.1 - 13.923.21



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Paper Authors

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Ryan Norton LeTourneau University

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Matthew Green LeTourneau University


Paul Leiffer

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PAUL R. LEIFFER, PhD,PE Paul R. Leiffer is a professor in the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology at LeTourneau University, where he has taught since 1979. He is currently co-developer of the program in BioMedical Engineering. He received his B.S.E.E. from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Drexel University. Prior to joining the faculty at LeTourneau, he was involved in cardiac cell research at the University of Kansas Medical Center. His professional interests include bioinstrumentation, digital signal processing, and engineering ethics. Email:

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

Need Definition for International Humanitarian Design Projects: a Contextual Needs Assessment Case Study for Remote Power

Abstract A student team designed, prototyped, and tested a system with the end goal of providing 2.5kW-hr/day of electrical power in remote areas, captured from a river with no dams or significant potential energy change. The project was sponsored by two international service organizations with need for remote power. The design team applied a recently published design method specifically developed for frontier design projects, that is, projects beyond the experience and expertise of the designers. The team applied the “Contextual Needs Assessment” method to identify important contextual influences and guide customer interviews. The resulting contextual data proved profoundly important to correct need definition and design direction for the project. Contextual interview transcripts provided the basis to form a customer needs list and design specifications. This paper describes the project partners and goals, contextual needs assessment method, project results, and specific design decisions impacted.

Norton, R., & Green, M., & Leiffer, P. (2008, June), Need Definition For International Humanitarian Design Projects: A Contextual Needs Assessment Case Study For Remote Power Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3853

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