Engineering Students Build Website for JUHAN Effort
With the support of a recent grant, School of Engineering graduate students made it possible for students and faculty at universities across the globe to have access to a variety of useful materials that aid in quick and effective humanitarian action.
The new, external website, JUHAN Online, is named for the Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network, which was first founded in 2008 as a collaboration between Fairfield, Georgetown and Fordham Universities on the premise that institutions will be more successful working together to address the needs of those who are suffering.
Marcia Arambulo Rodriguez, a recent graduate of the School of Engineering’s Management of Technology master’s program, took on the project as part of her capstone class in the fall semester of 2014.
“For my master’s program, I was required to develop and implement a ‘start-to-finish’ project that had to be a product, service, system or process that met a certain need. At the time, I was also working as a graduate assistant for the JUHAN project on campus, so I was aware of JUHAN's need of a platform to coordinate activities and disseminate information among partners,” said Arambulo Rodriguez.
After talking to the JUHAN leadership about their needs, Rodriguez assembled a team to build the website, which consisted of three students from the management of technology program and two students from the software engineering program. Rodriguez worked as project manager, while also serving as a liaison between the clients (JUHAN) and the service providers (the team of students). The website was successfully launched in November.
Funding for the website was made available through a grant worth $260,000 from the New York City-based Teagle Foundation, that works to support and strengthen liberal arts education. The three-year grant addresses preparing students for responsible civic engagement as well as professional careers in humanitarian service.
Venkata Siddhartha Penugonda, a current graduate student pursuing a degree in software engineering and graduate assistant for JUHAN, continued on with managing the website this semester. His duties include managing content, formatting the website and building systems to track user activity. “It’s good for engineering students to use their skills to help non-profit organizations promote their work,” he said. “In my opinion, we should all do our capstone projects with non-profits.”
Arambulo Rodriguez said, “Before coming to Fairfield University, I never thought that engineering and humanitarianism could be combined into a career. However, after my involvement with the JUHAN project, I think that engineering skills can be used to create more efficient processes and services to help people solve problems in a better way.”
The website will serve as a communication portal and information clearinghouse to support the work of partner universities across the growing JUHAN network. It will also serve as both a virtual “toolkit” of replicable teaching materials and best practices. Sample syllabi, course outlines, assessment tools and strategies to engage students in humanitarian action will be available.
“Working collaboratively with Marcia, Sid, Srenika Bachu and other engineering graduate students has been a tremendous enriching experience and we are very proud of their accomplishment," said Julie Mughal, Fairfield’s JUHAN director. “The students provided us with a remarkable product that will be a centerpiece of our JUHAN project. We are confident that JUHAN Online will become a ‘go-to’ site for students, faculty and staff across the Jesuit family of universities—and beyond—who are interested in partnering in humanitarian action. We are stronger when we work together in our response to crisis.”
Pictured L-R: Julie Mughal, Fairfield University's JUHAN director; Marcia Arambulo Rodriguez; and Venkata Siddhartha Penugonda