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 277 - Project Development for Underserved Communities
- Spring: ME 279K / CE 277K - Project Design for Underserved Communities
- Summer: ME 179M - 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 2016-17 cohort is now closed for Engineering students. Space is still available for Social Work students for the 2016-2017 cohort. Applications for the 2017-2018 cohort will open in early spring 2017. Please contact the PUC Program Coordinator Julie Westerman at email@example.com with any questions.
2016 Current Projects
In summer 2016, 21 PUC students are once again putting their knowledge into practice as they travel to communities in Guatemala, India, and Tanzania in order to implement the projects they have been working on in collaboration with local partners, stakeholders, technical advisors, and faculty mentors. Projects include an improved "pila" or water station, a community health center and toilet, and a dormitory room at a boarding school for visually impaired students. Follow the teams via their project blogs:
In 2015, 22 students put learning into practice as they devised solutions for communities in India, Tanzania and Nicaragua where they worked alongside local partners and stakeholders to construct housing foundations, sanitary latrines, accessibility ramps and drainage solutions. Learn more about the 2015 projects:
To learn more about projects dating back to 2010, visit the PUC past projects page.
Projects with Under-Served Communities Leadership and Partners