|Projects for Under-served Communities|
About Projects for Under-served Communities
The Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin offers students the opportunity to work with global communities on multidisciplinary projects that include all engineering fields, as well as social work.
The Projects for Underserved Communities (PUC) program combines the need to train future global engineering and social work leaders with the mission of the University of Texas at Austin of “What Starts Here Changes the World.” PUC is an innovative multidisciplinary curriculum, designed to teach project management skills and develop the cross-cultural communication competencies that are essential to working in a global environment. Engineering and social work professionals have complementary skill sets that lend themselves well to working on sustainable development projects together. In consultation with faculty mentors and through formal instruction, students work on project development and design with partners in marginalized communities around the world. Students have worked on projects in locations such as Ghana, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Mongolia, Guatemala and Mozambique. During the summer students will travel to the approved project sites to implement their projects and see the direct impact their project based academic work will have on the lives of others.
Phase I: Project Assessment
During the fall semester, students evaluate prospective projects that are identified by international communities or other stakeholders for feasibility, risk, impact and sustainability.
Phase II: Concept Selection and Design
In the spring semester, students focus on concept selection, design and fundraising for the approved projects. They also may lead reconnaissance trips to the communities.
With the summer course, team members travel to their international destinations to implement engineering projects with the help of community members and professional volunteers.
During the summer of 2010, students in the pilot class worked with community members in Patriensa, Ghana and Santa Cruz, Peru, to improve sanitation for more than 1,175 children, who now have access to clean drinking water.
During its pilot year, PUC earned a 2010 International Award for Innovative Practices in Higher Education from the University Design Consortium at Arizona State University.
"The course showed me the immense need around the world for better infrastructure, for improving the supply and quality of water, and for working with governments and organizations in harmony to serve our communities," Rosaura Estrada, a civil engineering senior who served as the communications lead for the Peru team says. "This experience has motivated me to continue working towards my degree in civil engineering so that I can make a contribution to fix those needs."
In the summer of 2012, two student teams traveled to Ghana to implement a water sachet packaging entrepreneurial project as well as a sawdust stove project.