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Sasha Minjarez | June 2, 2021

Civil Engineering International Program Promotes Peacebuilding

Civil Engineering International Program Promotes Peacebuilding


The University of Texas at El Paso Department of Civil Engineering, in partnership with the engineering faculty at the Universidad de Piura, Peru (UDEP), present students with the unique opportunity to gain an enriching global experience through the virtual faculty-led study abroad program, Peace Engineering, taking place June 4 through August 2, 2021.

Participating students can expect to be versed in civil and environmental engineering themes concerning the peace-building field through the concepts and challenges that forge the fundamentals of this expanding discipline, developing a wide set of professional skills that include collaboration, networking, communication leadership, and advocacy for peace engineering.

“In 2018, we defined Peace Engineering as the intentional application of systemic-level thinking of science, technology and engineering principles to directly promote and support conditions for peace. Peace Engineering works directly towards a world where prosperity, sustainability, social equity entrepreneurship, transparency, community voice and engagement, ethics and culture of quality thrive,” said Ivonne Santiago, Ph.D., founding member of the Global Society for Peace Engineering and facilitator of the virtual faculty-led study abroad program.

The international experience features a synergistic relationship in which 16 UDEP students and 16 UTEP students convene virtually over the summer semester. Students will be divided into eight teams of four and assigned an engineering project focused on meeting the distinct needs of their corresponding communities.

The program is geared to be well-rounded and aid students through an impactful curriculum coupled with essential guest speakers.

“This summer the topic of the course will be the application of Peace Engineering. The eight teams will be assigned an engineering project to work over the length of the course. The projects will be based on engineering needs in El Paso and Peru. The course will facilitate the introduction of renowned speakers from the U.S., Peru, and other countries, to present very engaging engineering and computer science projects,” said Henry Van, Ph.D., lecturer at the Department of Civil Engineering and lead facilitator of the program.

Since the conversion to a virtual format, the faculty-led study abroad program with Peru became the sole study abroad program offered at UTEP over the summer. Rather than canceling or postponing the program altogether, the Department of Civil Engineering faculty opted to press forward, and transition the program to a virtual format. The successful continuation of the program is due to the strong relationship that the department has built with UDEP’s engineering faculty over the course of more than twelve years. In this 2021 edition of the program, co-leaders Van and Santiago will manage the technical portion of the program while Blanca Carrasco, program manager for student success and strategic initiatives, will coordinate the cultural and social aspects at UTEP. At UDEP, Daniel Marcelo, Ph.D., is coordinating the technical segment, and Roberto Seminario and Maribel Alayza will act as Carrasco’s counterparts for the cultural and social experience of the program.

The academic and cultural aspects of the program complement each other by providing students with an enriching curriculum where they can maximize their experience and emerge equipped with the knowledge to change the world as peacebuilders.

UTEP students will become acquainted with the richness of Peruvian culture, and Peruvian students can expect a warm introduction to El Paso del Norte region through virtual culture sessions. The sessions will feature videos accompanied with music and photos detailing the sights and sounds of each respective region, virtual museum tours, karaoke, game nights with ensuing interactive activities, a virtual culinary challenge where students are to prepare a Tex-Mex infused Peruvian dish, and a traditional folclórico dance challenge.

“My experience throughout the course was memorable. As future engineers and professionals, we seek to make our city a better place for future generations and this program taught us all the tools we have to achieve this goal,” said Alejandra Nicole Valderrama Garcia, 2020 Virtual Summer Program UDEP student. We learned more about our history and traditions, and also, the culture of the city of our classmates of The University of Texas at El Paso, through activities that allowed us to interact despite the distance. I keep a great memory of this experience and invite all my colleagues to participate and live this opportunity.”

College of Engineering Communications

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