About Projects with Under-served Communities
Projects with Under-served Communities (PUC) is a unique program at The University of Texas at Austin that combines the two challenges of community need and student enrichment in an innovative project-based, service-learning collaboration between the International Office, the Cockrell School of Engineering, and the School of Social Work.
History of Impact
Launched in 2010, PUC uses an innovative yearlong course sequence to hone students’ leadership skills and cultural competency—both vital when competing in an increasingly global job market—while providing much-needed services to communities in developing countries. Projects have been successfully implemented in partnership with communities in Peru, Ghana, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea and India.
Teams served more than 14,850 people with projects including:
creating access to clean water sources
improved and more sustainable cooking stoves
increased accessibility for handicapped community members
How it Works
PUC combines rigorous coursework with hands-on, practical experience. Engineering and social work students participate in a year-long course while researching and designing projects in response to community needs. They collaborate with a local partner and travel to the community to implement the project during the summer following the completion of the academic course.
- Fall: ES 277K - Project Development for Underserved Communities
- Spring: ES 277L - Project Design for Underserved Communities
- Summer: ES 177L - Project Implementation for Underserved Communities
Skills gained through PUC:
- Project management
- Project Design
- Collaboration with partners in the local communities
- Cultural awareness
- Community engagement event coordination
- Public speaking and presentation
The application for the PUC 2017-18 cohort is now open. Please click HERE to access and complete the online application. The deadline to apply for the 2017-2018 cohort is by midnight on Monday, March 6th. Applicants will be notified of their status in the program by Friday, April 7th so that they many enroll in the fall 2017 course. Please contact the PUC Program Coordinator Julie Westerman at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Attend an upcoming information session to learn more about the program:
Wednesday, February 1st 5:30-6:30pm in ETC 2.132
Tuesday, February 7th 5:30-6:30pm in RLM 5.118
Monday, February 27th 12noon-1pm in RLM 6.112
2016-2017 Current Projects
In summer 2017, 26 PUC students will once again put their knowledge into practice as they travel to communities in Guatemala, India, and Thailand in order to implement the projects they have been working on in collaboration with local partners, stakeholders, technical advisors, and faculty mentors. Projects include solar panels for a hospital that treats malnourished children, a community learning and resource center, and a water filtration system and distribution station. Follow the teams via their project blogs:
Or learn more about the projects from their fundraising campaigns:
In 2016, 21 students put learning into practice as they devised solutions for communities in India, Tanzania and Guatemala where they worked alongside local partners and stakeholders to construct a health center, a girls' dormitory at a school for visually impaired students, and a "pila" or community wash station. Click on the links to the 2016 team blogs above to learn more about the 2016 projects.
To learn more about projects dating back to 2010, visit the PUC past projects page.
Projects with Under-Served Communities Leadership and Partners