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Quantifying and Qualifying the Preparedness of Engineering Students Collaborating with Underserved Communities Internationally

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 7

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Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1294.1 - 26.1294.12



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Paper Authors


Bhavna Hariharan Stanford University

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Bhavna Hariharan is a Social Science Research Associate at the Kozmetsky Global Collaboratory in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. Her field of inquiry is Engineering Education Research (EER) with a focus on engineering design for and with underserved communities around the world. For the last nine years, she has worked on designing, implementing and managing environments for interdisciplinary, geographically distributed, collaborative research projects among scholars, and with underserved communities. She is also a lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering department where she currently teaches a course Global Engineers’ Education.

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Sneha Ayyagari Stanford University

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Sneha is a student studying engineering at Stanford University. She is interested in understanding the role of education in solving pressing health and environmental issues. Through her experience in non-profit work, she has developed an interest in learning how to work with underserved communities to create sustainable solutions.

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Quantifying and Qualifying the Preparedness of Engineering Students Collaborating with Underserved Communities InternationallyIncreasing globalization and technological innovations have redefined the role ofengineers in working towards sustainable development. This is reflected in the creationand adoption of ABET Engineering Criteria 2000 which included six professional skillsto prepare engineers who were more aware of how their profession, products and servicesare embedded in the larger global, socio-economic and political context. The question ofhow to measure and evaluate preparedness of engineering students to meet theserequirements remains an open question.This paper proposes a performance indicator called global preparedness efficacy tomeasure the effectiveness of curricula that bring student engineers together withunderserved communities as a means to satisfying ABET criteria 3h, which is “the broadeducation necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global,economic, environmental, and societal context”The paper describes a course curriculum that was developed to educate student engineersto work with rather than for underserved communities in rural India to design sanitationand hygiene solutions. What differentiates this course from other similar efforts is that thecourse curriculum requires students and community partners to articulate their personalconnection to and care for the problem space, enabling a discourse that fosterscollaboration as equals. In addition, the course curriculum provides a unique experiencefor student engineers to engage with community partners directly by using virtualcommunication technologies in order to incorporate the local historic, social, political andcultural context into their design solutions.The reflection journals of 20 students describing their engagement with the designprocess and collaboration with community partners (both virtually and in-person) areanalyzed using a coding scheme to identify what curricular elements contribute tobuilding global preparedness efficacy.The paper concludes by demonstrating the merit of global preparedness efficacy as ametric to determine global preparedness in a variety of global contexts involvinginteractions with underserved communities.

Hariharan, B., & Ayyagari, S. (2015, June), Quantifying and Qualifying the Preparedness of Engineering Students Collaborating with Underserved Communities Internationally Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24631

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