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Social Constraints: A Critical Component of Global Humanitarian-based Projects

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Socio-cultural Dimensions of Community Engagement

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1072.1 - 23.1072.11



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Paper Authors

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Amy Wood Brigham Young University

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Parry Fader Garff Brigham Young University


Carol J Ward Brigham Young University

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Carol J. Ward is associate professor in the Sociology Department.

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Eric C. Dahlin Brigham Young University


Randy S. Lewis Brigham Young University

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Dr. Randy S. Lewis is professor and chair of Chemical Engineering at Brigham Young University (BYU). He received his B.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from BYU and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, respectively. He currently serves as vice-chair of the Education and Accreditation Committee of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and as an ABET commissioner for accrediting engineering programs. He previously served in several national positions of AIChE. His research interests include biomaterials development, engineering education, product design for developing areas, and the utilization of renewable resources for the production of chemicals.

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Social Constraints: A Critical Component of Global Humanitarian-based ProjectsSince 2007, a two-semester multi-disciplinary course in the College of Engineering andTechnology at _____________ University has enabled engineering and technology students frommultiple disciplines to design and implement humanitarian-based engineering projects. Thecourse, which is associated with the Global Engineering Outreach (GEO) Student Organization,has provided an opportunity for engineers to work on global problems, researching not onlytechnical but economical and socio-cultural issues. Following the course, projects have beenimplemented during a two week trip. Energy, water, sanitation, and health projects have beenimplemented in Tonga, Ghana, and Peru.The popular class has traditionally involved students from Mechanical, Chemical, Civil andEnvironmental, and Electrical and Computer Engineering programs, as well as students fromtechnology disciplines. Assessments from the various years have demonstrated that studentslearn skills and attributes that are not easily taught in a campus setting. Over the years, lessonshave been learned regarding the importance of social constraints related to the design andimplementation of projects.Recently, material related to social constraints has been implemented in the course to strengthenthe incorporation of social constraints in the design and implementation process. Specifically,student learning related to social constraints has involved a) lessons learned from the pastregarding social constraints, b) a workshop on design that includes the importance of socialconstraints, c) project reviews by faculty and previous alumni that includes a critique of socialconstraints, d) instruction on how to effectively communicate with community members, and e)instruction on how to determine social constraints while talking with community members.These latter two topics have been taught by a Sociology Professor.An overview of the social constraint material incorporated in the course will be presented andspecific examples related to past projects will be reviewed. Specific constraint examples willinclude time, protocol, cost, tools, community engagement, resource availability, types ofmaterials, tradition, technical ability, safety, and design parameters. Student assessment ofincorporating social constraints will also be presented. The understanding and incorporation ofsocial constraints is critical towards the development of sustainable projects.

Wood, A., & Garff, P. F., & Ward, C. J., & Dahlin, E. C., & Lewis, R. S. (2013, June), Social Constraints: A Critical Component of Global Humanitarian-based Projects Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22457

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