Document Type


Publication Date


Conference Title

2005 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) provides international experiences for over 50% of its engineering students, more than any other US-based university. As part of its international offerings, WPI has since 1989 been sending mixed teams of engineering, science, and management students to Bangkok to complete 8-week interdisciplinary projects. These projects connect science or technology to social issues and human need, and have been sponsored by Thai nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and universities, as well as by international organizations. The students are accompanied by WPI faculty members who serve as residential project advisors and work closely with the student teams. Whether in Bangkok or in rural Thai villages, the projects are designed to achieve a broad set of learning outcomes associated with critical thinking and integrative problem solving, written and oral professional communication, teamwork, cross-cultural abilities, and the role of technology in the developing world. About 90 projects had been completed by more than 275 WPI students in Thailand as of early 2005. The faculty directors and local coordinators of the program have developed a network of project sponsor contacts, and have come to understand what types of project opportunities are most likely to lead to the desired learning experience for the students. This paper will describe the WPI Bangkok Project Center operation and history. Projects in the areas of energy, the environment, sustainable agriculture, capacity building, and community development will be presented as examples. Some of the key elements in developing and maintaining relationships, selecting project topics, and preparing and guiding students through the learning experience will be discussed, in order to illustrate how other universities might provide more international service-learning experiences for engineering students.

First Page Number


Last Page Number



Copyright 2005 American Society for Engineering Education