Lessons from a student-led development project in Peru : aligning technical and educational perspectives
Gall, Elliott T.
Salas, Fernando Renzo
Date of Issue2014
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
With the growth of student interest in humanitarian engineering development projects, a critical assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of this type of work is crucial to success. While a number of models exist for joining development with technical expertise in humanitarian engineering projects, this paper focuses on the experiences of students working on a program in Peru within the Greater Austin Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB)-USA. This program is a unique EWB-USA program that builds on ongoing academic research in the Peruvian Andes at the University of Texas at Austin and regional efforts by The Mountain Institute to mitigate the effects of climate change on Peruvian communities that need technical solutions to water issues. We contrast the benefits and struggles of pursuing a student-led initiative with a regional scope. Specifically, this case study shares how the roles of partnerships between universities, private sector, government, and nongovernmental organizations create challenges and opportunities for a student-led humanitarian engineering program. The key challenges identified are (1) effectual use of U.S. team members, (2) building trust and open communication with in-country partners, and (3) understanding community dynamics and adapting projects to their local context. We present how development of a ‘non-traditional engineering classroom’ framework can serve as a proactive means for facilitating effective knowledge transfer, critical reflection, and service-learning to improve project outcomes.
DRNTU::Engineering::Civil engineering::Construction management
International journal of service learning in engineering
© 2014 The Author(s) (International Journal of Service Learning in Engineering). This paper was published in International Journal of Service Learning in Engineering and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of International Journal of Service Learning in Engineering. The paper can be found at the following official URL: [http://library.queensu.ca/ojs/index.php/ijsle/article/view/5567]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.