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Projects with Under-Served Communities


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.

Projects with Underserved Communities map image

Teams served more than 14,850 people with projects including:

Projects with Under-Served Communities clean water projects icon

creating access to clean water sources

Projects with Under-Served Communities stove projects icon

improved and more sustainable cooking stoves

Projects with Under-Served Communities accessible projects icon

increased accessibility for handicapped community members

Projects with Under-Served Communities sanitation projects icon

improved sanitation


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. 

UT Coursework:

  • Fall: ES 277K  - Project Development for Underserved Communities 
  • Spring: ES 277L  - Project Design for Underserved Communities
  • Summer: ES 177L  - Project Implementation for Underserved Communities 

Projects with Under-Served Communities laying bricks Tanzania image

Skills gained through PUC:

  • Project management
  • Project Design
  • Budgeting
  • Fundraising
  • 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 with any questions.

Information Sessions

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:

PUC Thailand 2016-2017     PUC India 2016-2017      PUC Guatemala 2016-2017

Or learn more about the projects from their fundraising campaigns:

PUC Thailand 2016-2017 Horn Raiser Campaign

PUC India 2016-2017 Horn Raiser Campaign

PUC Guatemala 2016-2017 Horn Raiser Campaign

2016 Projects

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

Project Faculty and Leadership

International Project Partners


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