Assessment of a Global Engineering Outreach Course
2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings
Introduction. Since the establishment of Engineers Without Borders in 2002 1 , opportunities for students at higher learning institutions to participate in global development projects has been enhanced. In 2007, a multi-disciplinary course for engineering and technology students was established at Brigham Young University where students could work on global problems, researching not only technical but economic and socio-cultural issues. The two-semester Global Engineering Outreach (GEO) course
... reach (GEO) course has involved students who were selected following an application process that included an interview. Each year, the GEO course involves 20-30 students selected from all engineering programs (chemical, electrical/computer, civil, and mechanical) as well as several technology programs. Teams are comprised of 4-5 students that work on projects that are identified by the communities in which the students implement the projects. Projects have been implemented in Tonga, Ghana, and Peru with over 200 students participating over the years. Communities within Peru have been the focus since 2009. The course is designed to give students a real-world design experience in a global setting on a scale commensurate with a 3-credit hour course. Thus, students learn that out in the real world, boundaries between engineering disciplines fade and all engineers at the simplest level are problem solvers, each contributing a unique viewpoint or technical background to solve the problem at hand. With more than 60% of the students at the university fluent in a foreign language, many students in the course speak Spanish ̶ providing a unique opportunity for students to interact with the communities during the two-semester course. Throughout the course, student teams are required to contact community members on a near-weekly basis to involve community members in the design process. Extensive documentation regarding project management, communication, technical and social constraints, concept generation and prototype development and testing is required throughout the course 2 . Following the course, students participate in a two-week trip where students interact with the community and implement the project, participate in cultural experiences, and identify projects for the following year. Following the trip, additional documentation similar to items noted above is required, as well as an executive summary, short video, reflections paper, and survey. Previous publications related to the course have discussed training internationally responsible engineers 3 , sustainability and impact 4 , integration of sociology and engineering using key principles of human-centered design 5 , GEO course insights 6 , social connectivity between students and communities 7 , the documentation strategy 2 , and water filter implementation in Southern Peru 8 . Some of these publications have addressed various aspects of the student learning outcomes which are: 1. Problem Solving -Students gain experience in the design process that includes innovative problem solving skills applied to the design and implementation of global projects in developing regions of the world in the context of real needs, constraints, and opportunities.