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Undergraduate Students Solving Transportation and Energy Problems through Service Learning Projects in Cameroon

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

Citation:  2011 Louisville, Kentucky, August 7-10, 2011  1111498.(doi:10.13031/2013.38119)
Authors:   John H Lumkes Jr., David D Wilson, Anne E Dare
Keywords:   Keywords: Service Learning, Developing Countries, Renewable Energy, Affordable Transportation

There is a need for students and researchers to understand, experience, and develop the skills necessary to work in the global world of agriculture. With the expanding role of agriculture into the energy sector, the reliance upon water resources to increase agricultural yields, and recognizing the complex interaction between agricultural products and technologies throughout all regions of the world, this experience and skill set is very important to our next generation of leaders in these areas. This paper describes a multi-year effort involving undergraduate students working on agricultural, transportation and energy needs in Cameroon. A partnership with the African Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies (ACREST) was formed in 2008 with students traveling to the partner in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Sixty-one students have participated in the design portion with thirty-one of those students electing to travel at the conclusion of their design projects. Projects have included basic utility vehicles, simple wind turbines, hydroelectric power systems, biofuels, and fuel briquettes from waste biomass. Students have found these experiences challenging yet very rewarding, both in the design phase and during travel. Designing solutions for different cultures and with vastly different resources from their own is a challenging process and students are able to learn through the experience the importance of the cultural context of the design and the challenges of simple yet effective designs.

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