Projects for Underserved Communities
This innovative yearlong course sequence for students brings together their passion and practical skills to complete projects in communities abroad.
Help make this year’s PUC Costa Rica project happen! Learn more about the project and make a donation today.
In a unique collaboration between the Cockrell School of Engineering and the International Office at The University of Texas at Austin, Projects for Underserved Communities (PUC) is an innovative yearlong course sequence for students that brings their passion and practical skills together to complete projects in communities abroad.
Janet Ellzey, Vice Provost for International Programs and Mechanical Engineering professor, and James O'Connor, C.T. Wells Professor in Project Management, created the course to help students develop their engineering and leadership skills while providing much-needed services to communities throughout the world. PUC uses a multidisciplinary curriculum designed to teach project management skills and develop the cross-cultural communication competencies that are essential to working in a global environment.
In consultation with faculty and industry mentors, as well as through formal instruction, students are responsible for all components of each project. They work on project development and design with community partners, lead fundraising efforts, organize logistics and create budgets. During the summer, students travel to the approved project sites to implement their projects and see the direct impact theis project-based academic work will have on the lives of others.
Social work students also play an integral role in the program. The complementary skill sets of social work professionals and engineers create a well-balanced team that tackles the challenges of sustainable development projects.
This year, the PUC teams will:
- Design and construct stadium seating for an outdoor theater and sports arena for a school in Costa Rica
- Make improvements to a community clinic and center in Nicaragua
- Build a water harvesting system in a rural community in Tanzania
Among others, past PUC projects include:
- Building a solar-powered water tank and distribution system in Papua New Guinea
- Connecting a suburban school to the municipal water line in Peru
- Designing brick stoves using an innovative approach to burn waste sawdust in Patriensa, Ghana
- Building a public latrine in Kenyasi, Ghana
For more information or to apply to PUC, please visit the PUC website.
Interested in supporting these remarkable students? Visit our Online Giving page.
Watch a Longhorn Nework video about the Projects for Underserved Communities program.