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Nontraditional University Research Partners That Facilitate Service Learning And Graduate Research For Sustainable Development

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Service Learning Projects in Developing Countries

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.913.1 - 14.913.11



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Paper Authors

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Maya Trotz University of South Florida

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Amy Stuart University of South Florida

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Daniel Yeh University of South Florida


Helen Muga University of South Florida

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Dr. Helen E. Muga is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of South Florida. Her research interests are in green engineering, sustainability, and appropriate management of water and wastewater. She is a two-time winner of the Mondialogo Worldwide Engineering Contest.

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Linda Phillips University of South Florida

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Ms. Linda Phillips is a Lecturer and Patel Associate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Florida. She has over 20 years experience in construction management. Ms. Philips began her teaching career in 1997 at Virginia Tech and then moved to the University of Minnesota before going to Michigan Tech, teaching classes in Project Management, Professional Practice and Capstone Design. In 2000, at the request of her students, Ms. Philips started the International Senior Design (ISD) taking over 170 students to developing world countries to do their Capstone design projects ( Ms. Philips is a lead author of the book Field Guide in Environmental Engineering for Development Workers: Water, Sanitation, Indoor Air, (American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Press, 2009).

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James Mihelcic University of South Florida

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

Non-traditional University Research Partners that Facilitate Service Learning and Research for Sustainable Development from the Undergraduate to Graduate Level

Abstract Goal 7 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals addresses the need for safe water, sanitation, and hygiene by aiming to halve the proportion of people without access to safe water and adequate sanitation from 1990 benchmarks by 2015. One key for successfully integrating university research with global development is to develop strategic partnerships with non-traditional academic partners that have a strong community presence. Here we use case studies to demonstrate how these partnerships are integrated with undergraduate and graduate education and research to develop sustainable solutions for global problems.

An NSF research project situated in Bolivia allows undergraduate and doctoral graduate students to work with a non-government organization and rural community water committees to research issues of water supply, water scarcity, sanitation, and watershed management. An interdisciplinary graduate course allows students to investigate concepts of sustainability and research methods using a case study focus that focuses on mercury in Guyana and research approaches across disciplines, implement population surveying methods, and apply simple systems modeling. These cases provide opportunities for meeting globalization and sustainability outcomes as elaborated in the proposed Environmental Engineering BOK.

Introduction International Science and Engineering (S&E) partnerships for research and education are essential for maintaining U.S. competitiveness in the 21st century (National Science Board, 2008) and existing engineering program outcomes like globalization, contemporary issues, and sustainability lay the foundation upon which these needed international partnerships can be built. Unfortunately, a recent survey of engineering undergraduates found that less than 2% viewed globalization and contemporary issues as one of the five most important engineering outcomes and only 30-36% felt “well” or “very well” prepared to incorporate global context or contemporary issues into engineering practice respectively (Atman, 2007). Outcome 11 of the draft BOK for Environmental Engineers addresses globalization and contemporary issues citing “awareness of the impact of inadequate sanitation on public heath in many parts of the developing world and the impact of human activity on climate change” as examples of issues that are both global (integration of processes or delivery systems that transcend national, cultural and language differences) and contemporary (problems and topics of emerging importance or recent discovery). Outcome 8 recognizes the critical role of environmental engineers in the emerging sustainable engineering sub discipline and requires the “integration of sustainability into the analysis and design of engineered systems”

The global challenges that graduates must be prepared to solve are illustrated in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and these provide


Trotz, M., & Stuart, A., & Yeh, D., & Muga, H., & Phillips, L., & Mihelcic, J. (2009, June), Nontraditional University Research Partners That Facilitate Service Learning And Graduate Research For Sustainable Development Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5327

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: © 2009 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