D80 Conference: Students Step Up to Help the Poorest 80%

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How can you design, discover, develop, deliver and disseminate life-changing solutions for the poorest 80 percent of the world’s inhabitants? Michigan Tech’s many international programs help do that under the umbrella of the D80 Center.  

The D80 Center includes Engineers Without Borders, the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology lab, iDesign, the Peace Corps Master’s International program (PCMI), Global City and the Terra Preta Working Group.

Each fall, the D80 Center hosts a conference to showcase the work its student organizations are doing to help underserved communities at home and around the world. This year’s conference is Saturday, Oct. 11 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Dow Building at Michigan Tech. It is free and open to faculty, staff, students and the public.  “Engage in Community” is this year’s theme.

Sustainable Solutions

“Designs and solutions simply aren't going to be sustainable if they are not aligned with, and in fact driven by, community priorities,” says Civil & Environmental Engineering Professor David Watkins, director of the D80 Center. “Solutions also have to be appropriate given the community's technical and organizational capacity and economic resources.  It’s well known that successful projects have a common trait of strong community engagement.  We also want to emphasize the benefits to students of getting engaged in their local communities, or with communities abroad, hence the theme ‘Engage (in) Community.’"

The conference features student presentations, with time for questions, answers and discussion; workshops hosted by faculty; and a keynote presentation, “The Complexities of Water, Climate and Health.” The keynote speaker is Jonathon Mellor, a graduate of Michigan Tech’s PCMI program, who is now at Yale University. He will share the work he has done to address global health issues.

“People should attend to find out about all the great things student groups, and some recent Michigan Tech graduates, are doing,” Watkins urges. “We also want students working on projects to have a chance to share their experiences and learn from each other.  Finally, we hope students who have not gotten involved yet will be able to learn more about the opportunities available to them, and be inspired to get involved.”

Advance registration is requested by Oct. 10. Registration, the program, and additional details are available on the conference webpage.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.