International Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD) (7th : 2015)

Two course sequence on developing sustainable technologies and business models for rural Nicaraguans Singh, Pritpal; Moncada, Maria Virginia; Klingler, James


Nicaragua is the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and has a large population of rural farmers. Villanova University has been working with rural communities for over 10 years primarily in the areas of gravity-fed water distribution system design and health care clinics for community health workers. More recently, a partnership has been established with the main national engineering university, UNI, in Managua. Through this partnership, we have developed a two course sequence for both UNI and Villanova students to work together on senior design/thesis projects to develop technologies and sustainable business models for those technologies. The first course was taught in the Spring 2014 term for the first time and included 9 students from Villanova University and 11 students from UNI. The Sustainable Business Models course was taught in the Fall 2014 term for the first time. The students worked in mixed teams of UNI and Villanova students on projects ranging from providing remote access to the Internet to new low cost baby incubator technology. While the classes have gone well to date and the students have generally been collaborating well, there have been several challenges. These include lack of access to the internet for UNI students, differences in school calendars, lack of coordination of Villanova and UNI project advisors, and cultural differences between the Villanova and UNI students. Details of the courses will be presented along with the challenges faced in teaching these classes. The sustainability aspects of the two course sequence will be described. Lessons learned and changes to be made in the next iteration of these courses will also be presented.

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