June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.1107.1 - 14.1107.10
Sustainability and Impact of Global Projects
A Global Projects in Engineering & Technology course at Brigham Young University has been in existence for three years to broaden the learning experience of engineering students by solving real-world engineering challenges using multi-disciplinary teams. The first two classes involved projects implemented in Tonga (2007) and Peru (2008). With the class currently in its third year, it was important to assess the sustainability of previous projects and the impact of the projects on the local people. All of the projects completed previously, and the projects currently in development, involve technical processes.
Studies were conducted to assess the sustainability, cultural response, and effectiveness of the humanitarian engineering projects completed by the students. The studies were conducted, and conclusions were drawn, based on student survey results, local villager responses, personal interviews, and discrete observations. Several studies were conducted both during the project implementation trip and several months following the trip.
Student surveys conducted during implementation of the projects showed that the perceived response was very positive and that the villagers accepted and would continue to use the projects. In terms of maintaining the technology, however, the students were more skeptical of the ability of the villagers to maintain the technology. Personal interviews with the villagers showed that they were very grateful and excited to see how these projects would help them to receive the basic needs of life. Acceptance level of the projects usually depended on the technicality of the project or process being implemented. Overall, the more technically complicated a project was, the more difficult it was for the people to understand, maintain, and use. Upon post- implementation follow-up, this observation was confirmed as the more complicated projects were usually abandoned, while the simpler, more basic projects were still in use for months after the original implementation. The simple projects passed the “walk-away test,” while the others did not. Another factor in the acceptance level of the projects was whether the projects proposed a solution to a perceived need, or was an actual need.
Projects selected in the future should focus on finding simple, less technical solutions to actual local needs as received from the villagers. Ideally, this would entail much more involvement from the selected village throughout the entire design process to ensure that the final solution would be useful and locally accepted. Projects should also be easily developed and tested prior to the implementation trip.
Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is an international organization whose mission is to provide humanitarian aid on an international level and increase the standard of living through engineering solutions. In 2006, a new chapter of EWB was founded at Brigham Young
Geddes, J., & Wilding, W. V., & Lewis, R. (2009, June), Sustainability And Impact Of Global Projects Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/4788
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