Application of sustainable solutions in international service-learning engineering projects

Carlos German Montoya Rodriguez, Mariantonieta Gutierrez Soto, Roger Dzwonczyk, John A. Merrill, Howard L. Greene, Miriam Cater

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


There is a strong interest in the contemporary generation of engineering students to accomplish project work that will give them the possibility to improve the lives of people in developing regions of the world. Engineering service-learning focuses on identifying the necessities of a community and developing solutions based on the community's existing limitations and constraints. Service-learning projects are an opportunity for students to learn about why technology is essential to society and how it impacts the people, culture and environment; service-learning education helps enhance important skills such as communication and teamwork. Since 2005, the College of Engineering (CoE), Engineering Education Innovation Center (EEIC) at The Ohio State University has conducted an engineering service-learning program in Honduras. The program consists of three components: preparation, implementation, and evaluation. These components are aimed to introduce and teach students the concepts of humanitarian engineering through a practical, real-world, hands-on experience. During the first stage, the students assess needs in collaboration with in-country partners, and then research, design, develop, prototype, test and document their chosen projects. In the second stage, the students implement and execute these projects. Finally, the students evaluate their designs and document their results as well as make recommendations for future work. In addition, the program allows the students to learn about the history, culture, politics, health issues, socioeconomics and specific needs of Honduras and its people. In the course of the program, the students also have the opportunity to develop their needs assessment, research and development, problem-solving, project management, time management, multidisciplinary teamwork, and communications skills in a real-world international environment. Sustainability and local ownership in the projects is emphasized in the program. The program attracts a diverse segment of engineering students, including a disproportionally large number of women engineers, as compared to general engineering student population at this institution. In this paper, the EEIC educational model used in the service learning program at The Ohio State University is presented with specific reference to the projects completed in the spring of 2013 at two locations in Honduras. These projects varied from water quality/water distribution and alternative energy solutions to agricultural innovations, site assessment and community education. The processes, constraints, challenges and rewards of our efforts, as well as the unique aspects and lessons learned from this educational model will be described. The three-phase approach that enhances both the educational model for the students and the sustainability and ownership components for the end users of the technology, i.e. The people who we are serving in Honduras will be defined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Event121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education - Indianapolis, IN, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2014Jun 18 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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