Study Abroad Experiences in the Developing World: Opportunities and Challenges

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2010-11-01
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Bryden, Kenneth
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Lesar, Richard
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Materials Science and Engineering

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering teaches the composition, microstructure, and processing of materials as well as their properties, uses, and performance. These fields of research utilize technologies in metals, ceramics, polymers, composites, and electronic materials.

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The Department of Materials Science and Engineering was formed in 1975 from the merger of the Department of Ceramics Engineering and the Department of Metallurgical Engineering.

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1975-present

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Over the past three years the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University have conducted a study-abroad course for ISU undergraduates in a small, isolated, village in the country of Mali, in western, sub-Saharan Africa. Most, if not all, of the people in the village live under conditions that the World Bank refers to as extreme poverty. The focus of the course is on the development of sustainable technologies that are appropriate for the people in this village and villages similar to it. Our goal is to offer students a chance to develop such technologies, in the end changing how they view engineering and their role as engineers. One of the challenges of the course is how to integrate this high value off-campus experience into the on-campus curriculum. To do this we have linked two on-campus sustainable engineering courses (sustainable engineering systems and appropriate technology design) with this study abroad course. In this paper, we discuss the course in more detail, with a focus on an assessment of how well we are meeting our objectives. We shall also discuss the challenges of holding such a course and will offer some advice for those who may wish to venture along the same path.

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This conference proceedings is from MRS Proceedings 1320 (2011): 26, doi:10.1557/opl.2011.543. Posted with permission.

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Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2011