Publisher: New Developments in Engineering Education for Sustainable Development pp 213-233
D-Lab and MIT IDEAS Global Challenge: Lessons in Mentoring, Transdisciplinarity and Real World Engineering for Sustainable Development
This paper reflects on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s D-Lab and IDEAS Global Challenge pedagogy over the past 14 years (2002–2015). The MIT IDEAS Global Challenge, a program of the MIT Public Service Center, is an annual invention and entrepreneurship competition that awards up to $10,000 per MIT team for innovations and service projects that positively impact underserved communities. IDEAS student teams work with a community partner on projects that are designed to improve the quality of life globally. Since its founding in 2002, IDEAS has awarded more than $600,000 to 132 teams. D-Lab Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Environmental Innovations for the Common Good (D-Lab WASH + ENV) is a MIT course offered for the past 10 years within a curriculum of over 20 D-Lab classes in international development. This author has mentored several hundred student teams that have entered the IDEAS Global Challenge, mostly through this course D-Lab WASH + ENV, including 26 winning teams. Eighty-one percent of these IDEAS winning teams have been led by women students. This is a model of the kind of program that can bring gender parity to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines while nurturing the “whole student.” In common with the wider family of D-Lab courses, the D-Lab-WASH + ENV course is structured around experiential learning and real-world engineering. This paper links the Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD) conference themes with the D-Lab/IDEAS pedagogy in terms of key concepts: mentoring, transdisciplinarity and real world engineering. It ends with challenges and recommendations.