Civil Engineering in Ghana

Sommer '11 and Lawrie '11At times, collaborating with local masons in Gambibgo, Ghana, on a new method of building was challenging for William Sommer ’11 and Dan Lawrie ’11, civil engineering majors, as they spent a month in the African village building a house with a catenary arch and specially designed adobe bricks. Language barriers, cultural differences, and supply delays slowed the timeline.  But keeping their eyes on the ultimate goal for the public good—teaching locals a new, inexpensive, sustainable construction method while providing them with a community gathering place—helped them put the project in perspective.

The students came to realize that although this was their senior design project, it wasn’t about them. “The whole idea was to make this a building they could construct without us,” Lawrie said. “It was frustrating. It was hard to build. But it’s one of those things where you learn to just give.”

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2007 Ripple House
The 2007 Ripple House.

Santa Clara's Ripple House went on to place third in the competition in 2007, the same year that Godfrey Mungal became the new dean of the School of Engineering. Under Mungal, Santa Clara continued its cutting-edge sustainability research by entering and placing third again in the 2009 Solar Decathlon competition. In 2010, the School of Engineering paired up with SCU's Center for Science, Technology, and Society on a Frugal Innovation Initiative, addressing the need in emerging, underdeveloped countries for products and services that make sparing use of local materials and that employ earth-friendly practices.

Godfrey Mungal
Dean Godfrey Mungal

Today, the School of Engineering's dedication to setting the standard for sustainability is evidenced by its cutting-edge research in energy management, a flourishing graduate program in sustainable energy studies, successes in the 2007 and 2009 international Solar Decathlon competitions, and a focus on frugal innovation. Santa Clara University's commitment to developing leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion is leading the way towards a sustainable future.

100 Years Strong and We've Got Momentum

With a century of engineering excellence to our credit, we are thrilled by the possibilities that lie ahead. As our students and faculty put their heads, hearts, and hands to work in areas of focus that could hardly be imagined back in 1912 - bioengineering, nanotechnology, sustainability, and frugal innovation for the developing world - we know that the best is yet to come for the School of Engineering at Santa Clara University.

We look forward to the next 100 years of thriving within a culture of integrity, innovation, and advancement, and we invite you to join with us as we embark on our second century of engineering excellence!