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Sustainable International Development as a Process

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Faculty and Program Developments, Exchanges, and Best Practices

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1221.1 - 25.1221.10



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Paper Authors


Marissa Jablonski University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

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Marissa R. Jablonski is a Ph.D. student of civil/environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM). She serves as Program Coordinator of the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded FORTE (Fostering Opportunities for Tomorrow’s Engineers) program at UWM and works to recruit and retain undergraduate minorities and women to UWM’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Jablonski is focusing her dissertation on sustainable oxidation of textile wastewater and is working to create small-scale wastewater treatment units for cottage textile industries. She trained at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) in Nagpur, India where she worked on biodegradation of azo dye intermediates. Jablonski served as Co-chair of UWM’s student chapter of Engineers Without Borders for two years since its inception in 2007 and continues to help design and implement water distribution projects in Guatemala. Jablonski was a 2008 recipient of the NSF Graduate Fellowship Honorable Mention, the 2008 Wisconsin Water Association Scholarship, and the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 UWM Chancellor’s Graduate Student Awards. Marissa is a member of ASEE and EWB. She received her B.S. degree in natural resources and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, in 2003, her M.S. degree in civil/environmental engineering from UWM in 2009 and will receive her Ph.D. in civil/environmental engineering from UWM in 2013.

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John R. Reisel University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

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John R. Reisel is an Associate Professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM.) He serves as Associate Director of the Center for Alternative Fuels, and Co-director of the Energy Conversion Efficiency Lab. In addition to research into engineering education, his research efforts focus on combustion and energy utilization. Reisel was a 2005 recipient of the UWM Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award, the 2000 UWM-College of Engineering and Applied Science Outstanding Teaching Award, and a 1998 recipient of the SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award. Reisel is a member of ASEE, ASME, the Combustion Institute, and SAE. Reisel received his B.M.E. degree from Villanova University in 1989, his M.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1991, and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1994.

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Sustainable International Development Work as a ProcessIt is the experience of a student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) at aMidwest institution, that sustainable international development work is a process thatrequires long range thought. The majority of engineering students who travel todeveloping countries with groups like EWB do so for a limited time period of an averageof two weeks, one to two times during their entire college career. Many critiques ofsustainable development projects completed by groups comprised of these types ofstudents are often categorized as being unbeneficial because of their inherent short-termview. Often an engineering professor or professional mentor serves as the cornerstone ofthe group to prevent this inconsistency. In the case of this student chapter of EWB,mentors are in the form of students who have traveled more than twice and paidparticular attention to the needs of the villages in the region.This Midwest chapter of EWB works on water distribution and sanitation projects in thenorthwest highlands of Guatemala working closely with the Guatemalan non-profitorganization, Water for Health. Documenting experiences since its inception in 2007, theEWB group has found the process of successful development work to include discussionswith experienced development workers, listening to the in-country community payingclose attention to passive communication, and returning to the same area to completesubsequent projects.It is clear to veteran travelers who have returned four and five times and communicatedirectly with villagers and the staff of Water for Health, that the scope of each yearlyproject is considerably broader. At this point, the group of veterans has been a part oftransitioning Water for Health to new leadership and a new method of finding projectsthat utilizes an association comprised of 50 Guatemalan village leaders that prioritize thearea’s construction needs. It was the belief during the first projects in 2007 and 2008 thatchlorination is the preferred and best purification method for the village potable waterdistribution systems. After deliberation with villagers in 2009 and 2010, many culturaltruths that prevent the chlorination systems to ever function are now understood.Presently, the group has plans to discuss slow sand filtration with a community inJanuary 2012 with the hopes of small-scale implementation in January 2013 that cangrow to large-scale implementation throughout the year. Based on the experiences of one5-year old chapter of Engineers Without Borders, it has been determined that sustainableinternational development can only be achieved when viewed as a long-term process.

Jablonski, M., & Reisel, J. R. (2012, June), Sustainable International Development as a Process Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21978

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