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Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Service to Society: Spreading ENGS 21

PROJECT ISWEST: George Boateng ’16, center, pictured with iSWEST team members, brought Thayer’s signature introductory engineering course to students in Ghana. Engineering major George Boateng ’16 hasn’t waited until he graduates to bring innovative ideas to his native Ghana.

Two years ago he created an abbreviated version of ENGS 21: Introduction to Engineering for high school students back home.  “Even before I took ENGS 21, the thing that blew my mind about this class was that students without advanced engineering classes could go through a design and innovation process and actually build solutions to real-life problems and start companies out of it,” Boateng says.

He started Project iSWEST (Innovating Solutions with Engineering, Science & Technology) and recruited six Ghanaian friends to help him run the program. The team pooled resources to offer a one-week pilot program for students in Ghana’s capital, Accra, during the summer of 2013. The pilot was successful enough for Project iSWEST to receive funding from Thayer and from Dartmouth’s Institute for Security, Technology and Society (ISTS) and Neukom Institute for a four-week program in Ghana during the summer of 2014. The extended program featured two weeks of workshops in electronics, robotics, and basic science, two weeks of innovation training, and a pitch day. According to Boateng, three teams of five students each developed simple solutions to local needs, such as a way to make cleaning louvered windows easy and safe. The participants even started a club at school to teach other students what they had learned.

“Our vision is to inspire an innovation revolution for youth across Ghana to create solutions to their communities’ problems,” says Boateng, an engineering major and computer science minor. “We want this to become part of the culture of Ghana.” Boateng has also developed another project, SpeedAlert!, for Ghana, where traffic accidents are the second leading cause of death. SpeedAlert! lets passengers riding public transport see the vehicle’s speed and the speed limit of the area. Boateng predicts that the device will help Ghanaians put social pressure on drivers to adhere to speed limits. “One thing about Ghanaians, they let you know when you are doing something inappropriate,” he says. SpeedAlert! received funding in November, when it was one of four winners among 21 projects presented at The Pitch, a competition run by Dartmouth’s Digital Arts, Leadership, & Innovation (DALI) Lab and the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network.

As if that weren’t enough, in March Boateng attended the Clinton Global Initiative University’s first student Codeathon for developing apps to address global health issues.

Boateng at Clinton Foundation

Boateng’s team, MediText, won the competition with an app that reminds patients to pick up and take medications.

—Kimberly Slover

Categories: The Great Hall, Service to Society

Tags: curriculum, STEM, students

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