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Global Design Teams

Global Design Teams (GDTs) are faculty-led groups (undergraduate and graduate students) that engage in the research and development of high-impact international development innovations. Students gain design experience and an increased understanding of global development challenges. Students may be expected to enroll 1 to 3 credit hours of GEP credit with the project advisor. Opportunities for international travel (bearing separate credit and applicable program costs) usually exist for each project.

How to apply

Global Design Teams generally accept applications for new students once each semester. For updates on when a new "call for applications" is announced, check back to this website, Facebook, or contact us to be added to the GEP email list.

Current projects 

Rural Potable Water Systems

This project started in 2010 with the objective of researching and developing point-of-use slow sand water filters. In Spring 2016, the class will design and construct a system to automatically pump 1000 L of water per day through a slow sand filter treatment system, and then automatically chlorinate and store this water for consumption.  In the next 2 years, it is anticipated that this system could be deployed in schools in Kenya, India, and Colombia. 

Seeking: Undergraduate or graduate students

Credit: 1-3 credit hours

Faculty advisors: Prof Chad Jafvert (CE/EEE), Prof John Howarter (MSE/EEE)

Purdue Utility Platform (PUP)

This project (established in 2009) aims to deploy a multi-purpose, three-wheel utility vehicle with a payload capacity of 900 kg (2,000 lbs) and the ability to power or pull various attachments, including: grain threshers, water pumps, maize grinders, generators, planters, and cultivators. 

Seeking: Undergraduate or graduate students

Credit: Negotiable

Note: An application is not required for this project. Interested students should attend this project’s regular meeting on Mondays at 6:30pm in the ADM building. Inquires may be directed to the graduate student project leader: Jeremy Robison (

Faculty advisor: John Lumkes (ABE)

Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems

This project is developing of hybrid energy solutions to power off-grid communities in developing countries. In Spring 2016, the team will (a) design and test of digital electrical loading controller for micro-hydropower system and (b) prototype design and test of a new wind-solar hybrid system. 

Seeking:Undergraduate students with a background in machine design, manufacturing, and/or electrical controls. French language and former international experience is a plus.

Credit: Up to 3 credits hours

Faculty advisor: Prof Jun Chen (ME)

WATER (Water Access To Empower Rural) Tanzania

Established in 2014, the team works with partners at the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) to address interdisciplinary water challenges in the 5,800 person village of Endallah, Tanzania. Located on the west side of Lake Manyara in the northern Tanzania, Endallah faces economic water scarcity, a lack of infrastructure to safe, sufficient, affordable water. The specific objectives of WATER Tanzania are to: (1) develop a sustainable, community-based water harvesting system, and (2) engage the community and stakeholders in participatory design. 

The computer models for the hydrology and hydraulics of the region will be ready by December 2015. The team members in Spring 2016 will run these models to determine the suitability of possible dam locations in Endallah. The team will then present the results to the community to consult and pick the first site for dam construction. The team will then start the design of the dam at the first site. Specifically, the team will size the dam by taking into consideration local field conditions and availability of material.

Seeking: Undergraduate or graduate students with water resources/hydrology, construction, and geotechnical backgrounds

Credit: 1 credit hour, but potentially negotiable 

Faculty advisor: Prof Venkatesh Merwade (CE)

Detection of SSFFC Drugs

The selling of Spurious, Fake, Falsified, and Counterfeit (SSFFC) drugs in Tanzania poses a major problem. It is common for drugs to be sold by vendors in markets throughout Tanzania; however, these drugs are often spurious, fake, falsified, or counterfeit. These drugs being sold mimic the size, shape, and packaging of genuine drugs without offering either the desired efficacious effect or the efficacious effect to the extent that non-SSFFC would normally. These SSFFC drugs waste resources, put individuals at risk of continued illness and discourage individuals from purchasing genuine and life-saving medications. With the research being conducted by this Global Development Team (GDT) for project partners at the Kilimanjaro School of Pharmacy (KSP), it is desired to develop a universal method for distinguishing between SSFFC and non-SSFFC drugs in Tanzania.

Seeking: Undergraduate and graduate students with pharmacy and biological engineering backgrounds

Credit: 2-3 credit hours

Faculty advisors: Prof Stephen Byrn (Pharm), Prof Kari Clase (ABE/PPI)

Past projects

Water treatment technologies

The team developed, tested, and installed a reactor to disinfect and remove fluoride from the water supply to provide potable water for a school in Eldoret, Kenya in partnership with Moi University.

Irrigation design

The team developed a software tool to aid farmers in the planning of irrigation and water management systems in partnership with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Accra, Ghana.

Irrigation management

The team researched ways to remove fluoride from irrigation water supplies in partnership with the Directorate of Water Management in Orissa, India. 

Water harvesting

The team contributed to the design of rooftop water harvesting systems and collection of surface water for agricultural purposes in South Lebanon in partnership with the American University of Beirut's Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service.

Water resources assessment

The team worked over several years to assess the state of water resources and identify creative methods for better water management in various communities in the West Bank in partnership with the Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG) and Birzeit University. 

Water resources assessment

This team worked to identify opportunities for better water management to increase access to potable water for residents within the community of Tamenglong, India.

Rural healthcare technologies

Teams worked in partnership with Timmy Global Health in Ecuador to develop a portable and rugged fetal heart rate monitor for use in rural Ecuador. They also offered solutions for transporting computer equipment in the Amazon.

Community center design

The team worked to upgrade an existing educational facility in the indigenous community of Lumbisi, Ecuador. The long-term global is to design and construct a new community center that provides additional classroom space for the children of the community. This project, in partnership with FEVI (a non-profit organization dedicated to intercultural education and community service), continues today as an EPICS project.


This team explored methods for converting olive-processing byproducts to heat for industrial processes, and potentially, for home heating and cooking in partnership with University of Jordan.