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The Harvard SEAS/Poli-USP Collaborative Field Course for International Environmental Engineering Education

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2013 ASEE International Forum


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 22, 2013

Start Date

June 22, 2013

End Date

June 22, 2013

Conference Session

Track 1 - Session II - Student Development

Tagged Topic

Student Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

21.66.1 - 21.66.10



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Paper Authors


Patrick D Ulrich Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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Patrick Ulrich has been the Assistant Director for Undergraduate Studies in Environmental Sciences & Engineering and a Lecturer on Environmental Sciences & Engineering in Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences since 2012. He earned a Ph.D. (2011) and M.S. (2006) in environmental engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S. in Physics (2005) from the Pennsylvania State University.

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Chad D Vecitis


Jason Dyett Harvard University, DRCLAS

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Jason Dyett is Program Director of Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) Brazil Office. Since establishing the Office in São Paulo in mid-2006, he has worked to expand research and teaching opportunities for Harvard faculty and students and their Brazilian collaborators across disciplines. Dyett first moved to São Paulo in 1996, after two and a half years at the DRCLAS in Cambridge. From 1997 to 2002, he established the office of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s telecommunications research division in Brazil and went on to gain experience growing technology companies in the country. He rejoined DRCLAS from the Corporate Executive Board, a Washington, DC based organization that provides executive education. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago (2004) and a BA in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Vermont (1994, Phi Beta Kappa).

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Monica F A Porto USP

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B.Sc. in Civil Engineering, 1978, Escola Politécnica - Universidade de São Paulo, M.Sc. in Water Resources Engineering, 1983, Universidade de São Paulo, Ph.D. in Water Resources Engineering, 1993, Universidade de São Paulo (1993). Full Professor at Escola Poiltécnica, Universidade de São Paulo. Deputy Head iof the Department of Hydraulic and Sanitary Engineering, Escola Politécnica, University of São Paulo. President of the Fundação Centro Tecnológico de Hidráulica. Fields of expertise: water quality, water quality management, water resources management

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The Harvard SEAS/Poli-USP Collaborative Field Course for International Environmental Engineering EducationThe fourth edition of the annual Collaborative Field Course, a joint program of Harvard's Schoolof Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the Escola Politécnica of the Universidade de SãoPaulo (Poli-USP), and Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies(DRCLAS), was held in Brazil for two weeks in January 2013. This course, which broughttogether 13 students from Harvard and 15 students from USP, focused on the “Global Challengesof Energy Production.” Course participants attended lectures and discussions with leading energyresearchers and professionals and toured a variety of energy facilities. The site visits included ahydroelectric power station, a nuclear power plant, the control center for Brazil’s nationalelectric grid, a landfill gas to energy project, and the manufacturing facilities of two engineeringfirms specializing in the development and production of wind and hydropower turbines.A global professional perspective is increasingly important for the development of engineeringstudents, and the Collaborative Field Course is a novel approach for placing future engineers inan international setting. The unique course design, which builds on the success of a modeldeveloped by Harvard and Brazilian partners in the field of public health, educates studentsabout an internationally relevant engineering topic, while encouraging them to compare thesimilarities and differences between engineering problems and practices in the United States andBrazil. The classroom component of the course was highly integrated with the site visits andrequired active student participation with lectures and discussions. The students were groupedinto integrated teams (half from Harvard and half from USP) that were assigned a topic toevaluate during the course, and the groups presented their analysis during a closing symposium.In addition to focusing on international environmental engineering education, a major goal of theCollaborative Field Course is the development of long-term relationships between the students,faculty, and staff participants. The course functions as a non-traditional catalyst for strengtheningnetworks and fostering international collaborations. To help meet these goals, Harvard and USPparticipants are fully integrated in the classroom, on field visits, in hotels, and throughout theirsocial interactions. Additionally, the course encouraged participants to experience the culture ofthe destination cities by providing students with free time during many evenings and holding amandatory weekend sightseeing trip for the entire group. In order to plan an effective course thatencompasses these comprehensive goals, a long-term collaborative effort by a dedicated team offaculty and staff members from the three sponsoring institutions was necessary.This paper will present a case study of the 2013 Collaborative Field Course, including adiscussion of the design and planning considerations for this unique experience, the academicobjectives and goals for internationalization, and a detailed itinerary of the site visits andlectures. Additionally, a brief overview of the history and development of the course will bepresented, including observations from the three prior courses held in Brazil (2010 and 2011)and the United States (2012). The anonymous student evaluations collected each year haveshown overwhelming student support for the intended course goals. The continuing transfer ofstudents and visiting faculty members between institutions, as well as the formation of newresearch collaborations, has demonstrated the effectiveness of the Collaborative Field Course forstrengthening ties between international universities and educating future global engineers.

Ulrich, P. D., & Vecitis, C. D., & Dyett, J., & Porto, M. F. A. (2013, June), The Harvard SEAS/Poli-USP Collaborative Field Course for International Environmental Engineering Education Paper presented at 2013 ASEE International Forum, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--17271

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