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GEPP: Where a world in need finds partners, and students find a world of possibilities

Author: William Schmitt
Anne Dare’s enterprising path toward a Ph.D. in agricultural and biological engineering (ABE)—and a career with the U.S. Agency for International Development as a Middle East wastewater expert—began with life-changing support from Purdue’s Global Engineering Programs and Partnerships (GEPP).
Anne Dare

"My passion for Middle East water issues began with a visit to the Jordan River in 2008 as a senior on a short-term study abroad program,” says Anne, who grew up in rural southwest Indiana. Attending Purdue’s College of Engineering, she discovered her interest in agriculture and sustainable water management through undergraduate internships helping farmers across the state conserve their natural resources.

Then, GEPP’s extraordinary connection-making abilities, embodying the College’s emphasis on building global competence among future engineers, broadened her horizons. Anne’s adviser for her undergraduate engineering capstone project, and then director of GEPP, was able to connect her with a non-governmental organization working in the water sector in the West Bank (Palestinian Authority). Hosted by a Purdue alumnus in Jordan, she and her classmates learned about regional water issues and local design constraints.

GEPP noted Anne’s newfound penchant for international development and encouraged her to complete doctoral studies at Purdue. GEPP was ready to facilitate that inspiration by arranging an assistantship where she could pursue her studies while also providing global opportunities for other engineering students.  Anne spent six months conducting field work in wastewater reuse with partners in the West Bank, Tunisia, and Qatar. The University’s Center for Global Food Security awarded her support from the Borlaug Fellows Grant Program.

Tapping her additional skills as a pioneering leader, Anne’s time back on the Purdue campus included major opportunities for learning, new research with faculty, and service to fellow students in a variety of fields. She earned her Ph.D. from Purdue ABE and became a post-doctoral researcher with GEPP.

She co-founded what is now the Shah Family Global Innovation Lab along with the College’s Senior Associate Dean Arvind Raman, a distinguished mechanical engineer and former director of GEPP. The Shah Lab is GEPP’s gathering place for the engineering community to engage with global partners to address critical challenges around the world. Its seed grants help faculty and students alike pursue the testing and scaling of innovations for international development.

Anne became Purdue’s academic lead when GEPP co-hosted 25 entrepreneurs in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the signature program of the Young African Leaders Initiative inspiring youth and building capacity across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Now, Anne works for the US Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C. She has sustained her commitment to water management in the Middle East by working with a research grants program within the Agency; it brings Arab and Israeli experts together on trans-boundary scientific issues of development relevance.

“GEPP as a convener of people, resources, and stakeholder organizations expanded my worldview from the farms of Indiana to working for the premier international development organization,” says Dr. Anne Dare.

She now helps bring together not only engineers, but other problem-solvers and policymakers who are working at the intersection of development and diplomacy. Her career journey with GEPP testifies to the power of connection-making and global education at Purdue, which enabled giant leaps for Anne and hopes to inspire other young engineers to cultivate their passion with individuals and organizations around the world.