Engineering Design for Social Change: South Africa

Engineering Design for Social Change (ENGR 1276) is an experiential learning course designed to provide engineering minded students (may be from any major) with an introduction to designing solutions to problems that impact humanity. Students will see the social consequences of engineering decisions made by companies and other organizations in South Africa and discuss the rationale that led to those decisions during meetings with leaders, engineers, and other representatives from those parties. The course aims to provide students across a range of disciplines the opportunity to work together and develop strategies for tackling both broad, complex problems and specific, service focused challenges based on principles that are rooted in empathic engineering design. Students will contextualize what makes specific approaches for problem solving successful locally, regional, nationally, and internationally. The course will develop a student’s skills to work remotely with one another to iterate through the ideation and design process of problem solving and to appreciate the social and cultural challenges that lie within.

Check out this video about the program: 

 

What You'll Accomplish

 
As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will:

  • Have a basic understanding of the fundamental principles of empathic design to solve complex problems;
  • Have participated in team-based observation, data collection, analysis, and ideation;
  • Develop an appreciation of the engineering and social complexities associated with the need to ideate solutions to complex problems in cultures that are different than those in which they were raised;
  • Gain experience in assessing the differences between meeting these challenges on local, regional, national, and international scales.

We work with ISA/Worldstrides as our provider in country to handle all logistics for this program.  We also partner with the University of Johannesburg and  CPUT Capetown Pennisula University to connect Pitt students with students in South Africa. South Africa is located at the southern tip of Africa. It is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho (which is completely surrounded by South Africa). It is a vast country with widely varying landscapes, 11 official languages and an equally diverse population. South Africa has the strongest economy in Africa and is an influential player in African politics. 
 

Where You'll Live

Students will be staying in hotels in South Africa Johannesburg and Capetown. 
You can expect the following:

  • Double or triple rooms with a shared bathroom
  • Heat and Air conditioning (which may be limited during certain hours of the day)
  • Sheets, blankets, towels, and washcloths
  • Breakfast included each day 
  • Wifi
What You'll Study

This is an experiential learning course designed to provide engineering minded students (may be from any major) with an introduction to designing solutions to complex problems that impact humanity. Students will see the social consequences of engineering decisions made by companies and other organizations in Africa and discuss the rationale that led to those decisions during meetings with leaders, engineers, and other representatives from those parties. The course aims to provide students across a range of disciplines the opportunity to interact and work together to ideate and develop strategies for tackling both broad, complex problems and specific, service, and social focused challenges based on principles that are rooted in empathic engineering design. Students will contextualize what makes specific approaches for problem solving successful locally, regional, nationally, and internationally. The course will develop the students’ skills to work remotely with one another to iterate through the ideation and design process of problem-solving and to appreciate the social and cultural challenges that lie within. 
Engineering students please contact the faculty director of your academic department to confirm how this course will count for requirements. 

Engineering Design for Social Change: South Africa (ENGR1267)

This is an experiential learning course designed to provide engineering minded students (may be from any major) with an introduction to designing solutions to complex problems that impact humanity. Students will see the social consequences of engineering decisions made by companies and other organizations in Africa and discuss the rationale that led to those decisions during meetings with leaders, engineers, and other representatives from those parties. The course aims to provide students across a range of disciplines the opportunity to interact and work together to ideate and develop strategies for tackling both broad, complex problems and specific, service, and social focused challenges based on principles that are rooted in empathic engineering design. Students will contextualize what makes specific approaches for problem solving successful locally, regional, nationally, and internationally. The course will develop the students’ skills to work remotely with one another to iterate through the ideation and design process of problem-solving and to appreciate the social and cultural challenges that lie within. 

Syllabus:
Experiential Learning Description

This program provides opportunities to work on a consulting type project with an organization in South Africa. 

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts

Dr. Diane Hardy Saran

Buna! That’s hello in Romanian.  After returning from being a Peace Corp volunteer in Transylvania- I decided to work in the field of international education helping international students.  Life took me back to Buffalo, NY (where I grew up- land of chicken wings)- and I worked for SUNY Buffalo for many years assisting international students and scholars.  In 2010, I moved to the ‘Burgh- and am now assisting engineering students to study abroad.  For fun I enjoy volunteering with my therapy dog Nora, yoga and fitness, international films, crocheting, and travel (of course). Come talk with me about studying abroad!  dmhardy@pitt.edu |  412-624-9823 | 152 Benedum Hall @SSoEIntPrograms     |    www.facebook.com/SSOEIntProg  

 

Sylvanus N. Wosu, PhD

Sylvanus N. Wosu, PhD is the Associate Dean for Diversity Affairs and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He earned his PhD in Engineering Physics from the University Oklahoma in 1988.  Dr. Wosu is also the program director for NSF S-STEM GEPS Program and NSF PITT STRIVE program.Dr. Wosu’s research expertise is in Dynamic Penetration and Fracture Mechanics of New Generation of Composite Materials, including Bio-Composites and Biosensors.  Dr. Wosu established a Dynamic Materials Behavior Lab equipped with a high speed imaging system capable of capturing dynamic events at 2 million frames per second, high-speed data acquisition system, Lab Ram System for characterization of solid, liquid and gases. 

 

Steve Abramowitch, PhD

Steve Abramowitch, PhD. is an Associate Professor of Bioengineering, Musculoskeletal Research Center, and Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences. He earned his PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh. His research is aimed at elucidating the processes of injury, disease, and healing of connective tissues through an understanding of tissue mechanics and the complex relationships between composition, structure, and function. He is particularly interested in utilizing this information to establish new clinical treatment strategies and rehabilitation protocols to improve patient care in the fields of Orthopedics and Urogynecology. In 2008, Dr. Abramowitch became an NIH Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Scholar (BIRCWH), which has allowed him to transition from his training in Orthopedics to Urogynecological research. Professor Abramowitch is one of only a few bioengineers in the country with this area as his primary research focus. His solid collaboration with Urogynecologist, Dr. Pamela Moalli, has led to a very productive relationship providing tremendous insight into the mechanisms of prolapse and the impact of polypropylene mesh following implantation for prolapse repair. In addition, this unique expertise has allowed him to be the only engineer who is part of clinical research (U01) being performed by the NICHD’s Pelvic Floor Disorders Network, whose members come from nine leading medical centers across the United States. These relationships have enabled him to maintain a significant translational focus within his work. 

 

 

  In- State Out-of-State
Estimated Expenses Billed by Pitt $4700 $4900
Estimated Additional Expenses (including $300 study abroad fee) $800 $800
Total Estimated Cost  $5,500 $5,700

Based on 2019 costs. Final program costs and will be available by November 15.

What's Included

As a part of the program costs, the following were included in the program:

  • Tuition for 3 Pitt credits
  • Housing in Pittsburgh the first week; housing in-country
  • Airport transfers (in-country) and all ground transportation
  • Health insurance
  • Some meals
  • Admission and participation to all events and excursion

Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad.  Visit our budgeting page for more information.
Questions about Funding study abroad?  Check out the study abroad’s funding search page and note that SSoE has funding specifically for Pitt engineering students.
 

When You'll Go

Traveling to and from South Africa

Students will be asked to come back to Pittsburgh to attend pre-departure classes May 4-7 and students will depart for South Africa on May 7th.  Students will make their own arrangements to South Africa. Instructions about when and where to fly into will be provided post acceptance. 

While in South Africa - Itinerary and Independent Travel
Click here to download an example itinerary for the program (coming soon).  Keep in mind that the excursions, their lengths, and dates are all subject to change.  
Traveling in South Africa can be challenging, students who choose to travel independently after the program should consult with the program manager.  

 

What Else You Need to Know

Admissions Requirements:
 

  • This program is for students with a background in math and science 
  • Good academic and behavioral standing, in your second year or higher level at the time of application

 
GEPS Scholars- If you are a GEPS Scholar, please contact Natalia Goodnow about how your scholarship can be applied to this program.