In this paper, we will share our experiences and lessons learned from a design project for providing clean water to a Haitian orphanage (Project Haiti 2011). Supported by funds from a renewable energy company and the university president’s office, five engineering students and two faculty members from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University successfully designed and installed a solar powered water purification system for an orphanage located in Chambellan, Haiti. This paper discusses the unique educational experiences gained from unusual design constraints, such as ambiguity of existing facilities due to limited communication, logistics of international construction at a remote village location, and cross-cultural differences in water usage. Multiple positive outcomes were achieved, such as our students developing a global perspective, our faculty gaining experience in leading an overseas student trip, and the provision of daily water for children and surrounding community in Haiti. Our students' perspectives will be shared, as well as the framework for support from our community and university administration. Project Haiti 2011 was a big success for all the participants and the stakeholders. We hope that this paper inspires others to pursue similar service learning experiences, and is found to be a repeatable engineering education model for international community improvement projects.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/marc_compere/2/