Community livelihoods in India. Nuclear power in Idaho . Carbon Neutrality in Priority Challenges in rural Ecuador.

Earn up to 6 credits this winter term as you prepare for a 6-8 week field experience in the spring/summer. (This program is closed for 2020. )

In this experiential course, students learn the skills of socially engaged design during the winter semester, engage in hands-on practice with their teams, and then spend 6-8 weeks during the spring/summer immersed in a field site working with a community partner to identify potential design opportunities.


How does it work?

ENGR X55: Finding Genuine Design Opportunities, Winter 2020

Students will work with community partners to identify assets and needs, define opportunities, and prioritize challenges to work on. They also may identify and document existing solutions and available community-based assets, generate user requirements and specifications related to community needs, and begin to generate initial concepts. The final deliverables for the course are a fieldwork plan and customized report for the partner organization that identifies priority design opportunities in their work at end of the fieldwork.

Students enroll in the ENGR X55 course that matches their academic level (i.e. 355 or 455).


SETCO Foundation, Gujarat, India
The Setco Foundation focuses on healthcare, nutrition, education and empowerment of underprivileged women and children in the Panchmahal district of Gujarat, India. Students will work with Setco Foundation to broadly identify the highest priority challenges facing women and children in a rural village in Gujarat in order to inform the strategy and direction of the foundation’s future work in the district.

Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID
Idaho National Labs is hosting the construction of several first-of-a-kind advanced nuclear reactors. These new technologies are scalable for use in many new applications, including: powering remote locations, emergency response efforts, and supporting the electrification of transportation. Advanced reactors could be pivotal tools in the fight against climate change, however their potential adoption hinges on the success of community engagement efforts. Students working on this project will research and develop strategies to engage with local leaders and decision-makers in the communities surrounding Idaho National Laboratory, and determine how these strategies could be adopted in other communities as advanced nuclear technologies are deployed in the US and globally in the coming years.

Nido de Vida, La Bolivarense, Ecuador
Through a partnership with Nido de Vida, a family-run educational and agricultural association in rural Ecuador, students will work to understand and prioritize local challenges to bettering the livelihoods of community members. Intermediate to advanced proficiency in Spanish is required.

The City of Detroit Office of Mobility Innovation, Detroit, MI
The City of Detroit Office of Mobility Innovation seeks to learn more about what transportation challenges seniors living in Detroit face, specifically as they relate to medical and healthcare needs. Students will spend 6 weeks identifying stakeholders, interviewing seniors, and synthesizing insights to help inform a pilot study that seeks to determine whether providing transportation to healthcare “super users” improves health outcomes overall and what role autonomous vehicles might have in supporting future health related transportation needs of seniors.

Whirlpool, Ann Arbor, MI
As a producer of home appliances, Whirlpool has a key stake in ensuring that sustainability is at the forefront of the design of new technologies for the home. Using the city of Ann Arbor and it’s residents as a focus, students will investigate and uncover what home sustainability and resilience means to people. What are the gaps in the public’s knowledge on home sustainability? How might whirlpool create a model for sustainability education that engages the public and acknowledges that the challenges to implementing sustainable homes are more than technical, but also social and economic?

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