MSSE STUDENTS GAIN INSIGHTS FROM INTERNATIONAL SERVICE EXPERIENCE
In fall 2016, Villanova’s popular Sustainable Engineering graduate program (MSSE) launched an international development track. Designed to train sustainable engineers as development practitioners, the track prepares graduates to engage with community partners to develop “local solutions to local problems” within a broader social, economic, environmental and political context.
“The most important aspect of the track is experiential learning through internships, volunteer assignments and research with partners around the world, in conjunction with Villanova Engineering Service Learning,” explains Iain Hunt ’15 MSSE, an alumnus who now leads the track.
The program is popular with Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and Villanova alumni who were active in VESL initiatives. It is also seeing increased interest from international students in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as working professionals in the United States who are interested in gaining experience in an impact-oriented sector.
These current MSSE students—all on the international development track—shared their experiences and reflections.
Matt Bemis, Ghana
Bemis worked with Lifetime Wells International on a GIS-based asset management tool for handpump water systems.
Cristina Benzo, Peru
Benzo is working on a thesis project with the WindAid Institute to develop a methodology for accessing available wind resources and projecting how they might vary in a changing climate.
Mackenzie Bowden ’18 ChE, Indonesia
With a Fulbright award, Bowden will spend the year researching feedstocks for anaerobic digestion in partnership with Bogor Agricultural University.
Amanda Findlay ’17 CLAS, Madagascar
Findlay is working with Catholic Relief Services to develop a management tool for rural water utilities to track water quality, financial flows and customer satisfaction over time.
Terry Williams, Cambodia
For the past two summers, Williams has worked with the Caramanico Foundation promoting the adoption of simple and affordable technology to improve the quality and range of educational material available to students in the poorest parts of Cambodia.