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Developing Sustainable Solutions for Impoverished Communities in South Africa: A Student Centered and Service Learning Capstone Design Experience

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2007 ASAE Annual Meeting  078018.(doi:10.13031/2013.22884)
Authors:   Andy D Ward, Kerry Hughes Zwierschke, Carol Moody, Ann D Christy
Keywords:   capstone design, international engineering education, South Africa, service learning

The Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the Ohio State University has been expanding the senior capstone design experience to begin at the junior year and to include opportunities for international design projects. In June 2006, the department sent a group including undergraduates, a graduate student, staff, and faculty to South Africa in cooperation with the University of KwaZulu- Natal, the University of Cape Town, and several municipalities in South Africa. The objectives were to (1) facilitate student centered and service learning capstone design experiences for engineering students in the United States and South Africa; (2) develop sustainable solutions for impoverished communities in South Africa; and (3) provide an international educational and cultural experience for engineering students and faculty. Four capstone design teams worked on various projects that they identified while in South Africa. These were: compressed earthen blocks for rural home construction (2005-2006), greywater water reuse at Edendale Valley Elementary School and Community Garden (2006-2007), cellulosic ethanol production from sugarcane (2006-2007), and rooftop water collection at government-supplied housing (2006-2007). This project enhanced student capstone design opportunities by providing a more global experience and a unique cultural opportunity incorporating service learning opportunities and humanitarian objectives, and it has the potential to aid in developing design solutions that will extend well beyond those of most undergraduate design projects.

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