Projects with Underserved Communities

Projects with Underserved 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 Mexico, Peru, Ghana, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, India, and Thailand.

Map depicting history of impact with successful projects in partnership with communities around the world. Countries include Mexico, Peru, Ghana, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, India, and Thailand.

 

Teams served more than 18,300 people with projects including:

 

Icon of a water faucet dripping a drop of water.

Creating access to clean water sources

 

Icon of stove top burner.

Improved and more sustainable cooking stoves

 

Handicap sign icon.

Increased accessibility for handicapped community members

 

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Increased sanitation

 

 

Solar panels icon.

Solar power for malnourished children clinic

 

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More health clinics

 

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Community learning and resource center with computers

 

 


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.

Coursework

Fall: ES 277K - Project Development with Underserved Communities

Spring: ES 277L- Project Design with Underserved Communities

Summer: ES 177L - Project Implementation with Underserved Communities

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

PUC 2018-19 Projects

Learn about the most recent PUC projects by visiting each team's blog for the latest updates and project fundraising videos:

 


Apply for PUC 2018-2019

The application for the 2018-2019 cohort is closed. Please contact the PUC Program Coordinator Julie Westerman at jwesterman@austin.utexas.edu with any questions.

Apply

 

 


 

Learn More

A person sits with a group of children outside.

Leadership

Learn about the faculty instructors, advisors and service learning advisory board.

A group works on a construction project.

Past Projects

Read about previous projects since 2010 in nine different countries across three continents.

A student holds up the Hook Em Horns hand sign abroad.

International Partners

View the list of past and current PUC partners and sponsors.

 


Get Involved

Help empower students and communities in need by making these projects possible by contributing your time, expertise, or financial support. By volunteering your time and lending students your technical expertise, you help shape future professionals while assisting a community in need. Your financial contribution directly supports the purchase of project materials. Every donation, no matter how big or small, has a profound impact on both the Longhorn nation and the communities served.

 

Additional funds in the recently created PUC endowment provide resilience and flexibility:

  • Project funding could be supplemented in cases of urgent need (e.g., if a funding partner withdraws support or if a project is in jeopardy because of a small funding shortfall)
  • Travel scholarships could be established to increase participation of lower income students

Online Donation

You can make your contribution online to the PUC Endowment Fund here or by clicking the button below. Please be sure to write PUC Endowment Fund in the notes section of the donation page if not already included there.

For any method of donation (whether online or by check), please be sure to list which specific PUC Team you would like to support in the notes section. For example, "PUC India."

Donate Online

By Check

*Please make all checks payable to The University of Texas at Austin and mail to:

Dean Clement
Development Associate
The University of Texas at Austin
Cockrell School of Engineering
1 University Station C2100
Austin, TX 78712

    Airfare is often the largest expense in the project budgets and we hope to save money by purchasing tickets using frequent flyer miles. None of the donated money is used for student travel.

    To learn how to pledge your frequent flyer miles, please contact the PUC program coordinator.

    Provide technical expertise and oversight and/or travel with the team to provide support on the ground. Contact the PUC program coordinator for details.