The Effects of a Water-Focused Study Abroad Program on Engineering Students' Intercultural Communication Competence


Intercultural communication competence indicates the extent to which individuals understand other cultures and are able to interact effectively and appropriately with people from other backgrounds. With many international engineering initiatives happening, it is essential that students develop such skills. How are engineering students' intercultural communication skills affected by their participation in engineering courses that feature study abroad components? This paper addresses this question as it relates to a specific course sequence, Introduction to International Engineering and Design, which focuses on water usage, water culture, and water disinfection, and, more specifically, on the use of ceramic pot filters in rural Guatemalan communities. The discussion focuses on comparing pre- and post-trip quantitative and qualitative data collected from students, including 1) student participants' responses to questionnaires, 2) their responses to oral interviews regarding beliefs and attitudes, and 3) author Merfeld-Langston's personal observations during a 2016 trip to Guatemala.

Meeting Name

17th World Environmental and Water Resources Congress (2017: May 21-25, Sacramento, CA)


Arts, Languages, and Philosophy

Second Department

Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering


Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

Keywords and Phrases

Curricula; Disinfection; Education; Environmental technology; Students; Surveys; Ceramic pot filters; Course sequences; Engineering course; Inter-cultural communications; International engineering; Qualitative data; Water culture; Water disinfections; Water resources

Geographic Coverage


International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 May 2017


Article Location