Professeurs sans frontieres: Spreading faculty knowledge and experience around the world

Bobby G. Crawford, Stephanie Farrell, Elizabeth Bristow

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Engineering education is a global enterprise. Nowhere is that more evident than in countries where there is a severe shortage of this invaluable commodity. A study of the war in Afghanistan in an attempt to isolate the root causes of this conflict invariably points to the lack of education among the populace which serves as a breeding ground for extremists and insurgent indoctrination. In his book, Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson describes the motivation for his campaign of promoting peace through education as follows: "If we try to resolve terrorism with military might and nothing else, then we will be no safer than we were before 9/11. If we truly want a legacy of peace for our children, we need to understand that this is a war that will ultimately be won with books, not with bombs." A by-product of the poor educational system is a shortage of engineers and the accompanying poor state of civil infrastructure that permeates the country. In addressing this problem, the national leadership of Afghanistan is working to reinvigorate the country's university system. Part of that effort has been the establishment of the National Military Academy of Afghanistan (NMAA); a four-year, bachelor degree granting institution modeled after the military academies of the United States. Two of the primary degrees offered by NMAA are in Civil and General Engineering. In the summer of 2009, faculty members from the United States Military Academy (USMA) traveled to NMAA to serve as mentors for the budding Academy. This same principle applies beyond Afghanistan. There is a continuing need for engineering expertise and education in Nicaragua, India and elsewhere. Engineering faculty and students today can expect to work on projects far beyond the borders of their home countries, in settings ranging from villages in the developing world to the most modern of cities. The mental and cultural dexterity required to work in widely diverse environments is seldom explicitly taught, but nevertheless it must be learned. Students may gain international experience through study-abroad programs or service-learning programs in developing communities and professors may foster student development by including their own international work experiences in classroom lectures and discussions. This paper gives a brief overview of various outreach activities to Afghanistan, Nicaragua and India. It discusses the authors' activities abroad, describes some of the varying needs, and conveys lessons learned and issues which must be considered when conducting this type of global outreach. It describes a practical application of learning theory as well as the teaching and reinforcement of that theory as part of continuing faculty development in both emerging and developed educational systems. It also discusses the augmentation of student education through a formal service learning program conducted through Engineers Without Borders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
ISBN (Print)9780878232413
StatePublished - 2012
Event119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - San Antonio, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 10 2012Jun 13 2012

Publication series

NameASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Electronic)2153-5965


Other119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio, TX

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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