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.
Teams served more than 18,300 people with projects including:
Creating access to clean water sources
Improved and more sustainable cooking stoves
Increased accessibility for handicapped community members
Solar power for malnourished children clinic
More health clinics
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.
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
- 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 2019-2020
The application for the 2019-2020 cohort is now open. The deadline to apply is Monday, March 11th, 2019. Please contact the PUC Program Coordinator Julie Westerman at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Attend an information session:
Wednesday, February 20th 530-630pm in ECJ 1.222
Friday, February 22nd 12-1pm in ECJ 1.314
Tuesday, February 26th 530-630pm in ECJ 1.308
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
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."
*Please make all checks payable to The University of Texas at Austin and mail to:
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.