Quick Info

  • South Africa
  • Maymester, Summer
  • : Panther Program
  • : Africana Studies, Engineering, Environmental Studies
  • : May 1 - May 17, 2019
  • : In-State $4,700 | Out-of-State $4,900
  • : Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
  • : 2.75 GPA, Pitt Students: Must have completed 24 credits on a Pitt campus, Clear Judicial Record


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. 

By the end of the course the students 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.

You can review the syllabus for ENGR 1276. This syllabus is from 2018, updated syllabus will be updated soon. 

Contact the faculty director of your academic department to confirm how this course will count for requirements. 

    On-Site Faculty And Staff

    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. 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. 


    Students will be staying in hotels in South Africa. 

    Pricing And Dates


    In-State Fee Out-of-State Fee
    $4,700 $4,900


    Dates are tentative but will be updated soon. 

    Questions about scholarships? Check out our scholarship page!

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

    Inclusions & Exclusions

    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

    Keep in mind that you are also responsible for the following:

    • Airfare ($1,400-$1,900)
    • Study Abroad Administrative Fee ($300.00)
    • Some meals (~$300)
    • Personal expenses (depends on personal spending habits).

    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.


    Ready to get started on your application?  

    Program Staff

    Dr. Diane Hardy Saran

    Walk-In Advising Hours:

    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


    Dr. Kristine Lalley

    Walk-In Advising Hours:

    Bonjour! I became the Swanson School’s first Director of International Initiatives in August 2007. In this role I have collaborated with Swanson School faculty members to create international education opportunities for engineering students- including studying abroad, international internships and service learning projects along with other research opportunities abroad. I have also conducted research on learning processes in the context of international education. I studied in Paris, France during my junior year and continue to love visiting countries around the world whenever possible, learning as much as I can about other cultures. I enjoy supporting engineering students and seeing them change from their experiences abroad. 

    Come talk with me about studying abroad!

    Krl33@pitt.edu |  412-624-3489 | 152 Benedum Hall

    @SSoEIntPrograms   |    www.facebook.com/SSOEIntProg