Student teams design practical solutions for communities around the world

June 15, 2012

Six years ago, four Arizona State University professors from engineering, technology, business and global studies gathered in a coffee shop to brainstorm ways to engage their students in creating solutions to global poverty.

All had some global experience, and they knew that well-meaning charities working overseas often left behind expensive technology that would rust in the fields, with no materials or expertise to maintain it. people installing solar panel Download Full Image

Out of that fruitful meeting grew GlobalResolve, a social entrepreneurship program in which ASU students and faculty design affordable, low maintenance solutions for underprivileged communities.

About 250 ASU students in engineering, business, design, sustainability, architecture and other majors have participated in the four-semester GlobalResolve courses in the College of Technology and Innovation (CTI), many of them traveling overseas to work with villagers in developing nations.

Mark Henderson, engineering professor in CTI who is director of the program, flew to Ghana within months of that first meeting and sat down with a village chief to ask him what the community needed. The chief’s answer: clean water and lights at night.

Since then students have created many products, including the Twig Light, a clean lighting system that makes use of waste energy to produce clean electric light inside homes. They also developed clean burning ethanol gel fuel and a companion cooking stove to allow villagers to replace high pollutant wood and charcoal fuels that contribute to deforestation.

Solutions developed by GlobalResolve are designed to be replicable both locally in and near Arizona and internationally, to create the potential for profitable new business ventures that generate sustainable income streams for the community.

In Haiti graduate student Ryan Delaney designed a pyrolyzer, a device to convert agricultural waste into charcoal, which burns with less smoke than wood. Since then he has started a nonprofit organization, Carbon Roots International, and is teaching villagers how to build stoves and to make and sell charcoal.

Two years ago ASU students began collaborating with students from Tec de Monterey to create a sustainable village in Mexico. They are led by John Takamura, assistant professor of Industrial Design in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and Dan O’Neill from the Global Institute of Sustainability. Students are developing ways to engage residents in organic farming, fair trade sales of tribal embroidery, food service and tourism, health and science education, and organic yogurt production.

ASU students also have begun working with students from MIT and Penn State to redesign and improve the Jaipur Foot, a prosthetic foot for amputees made in India by the largest organization in the world providing artificial limbs.

And in a brand new project closer to home, 18 ASU students traveled to the Navajo Reservation in May to install solar electricity and hot water systems in the homes of elderly Navajos. They partnered with the Navajo Technical College and IINA Solutions.

“These projects are life-changing for our students,” says Henderson. “They gain both global and personal awareness. They learn that there are huge problems in the world, problems that they actually have the power to solve. It can change the direction of their lives.”

Even as they spread out around the world, ASU’s GlobalResolve teams continue to return to Ghana to meet the needs of the people there.

Henderson and CTI professor Brad Rogers will be in Ghana this summer, working as co-principal investigators on a Gates Foundation-funded project to install electricity-generating pit latrines using microbial fuel cells.

Inspired by seeing videos of the Ghana projects, ASU undergraduate John Houghtelin also has developed a pocket device for villagers that generates electricity from everyday body motion.

GlobalResolve maximizes resources by partnering with other groups, including universities, local governments, corporations, community residents, financial institutions, nonprofits and non-governmental organizations.

For more information, visit If you would like to be involved in the program as a student, mentor or sponsor, email

Cronkite students earn honors at Hearst Championships

June 15, 2012

Three May graduates of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University received honors in the national championships of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program.

Dan Neligh won first place in the national television broadcast news championship. Neligh, of Lakewood, Colo., received a $5,000 award.   Download Full Image

J. Weston Phippen, of Salt Lake City, won third place in the competition’s national writing championship. He was awarded $3,000.

Nathan O’Neal was a finalist in the national television broadcast news championship, earning a $1,500 award. O’Neal, of Globe, Ariz., also was honored with a $1,000 award for best use of television for news coverage.  

Neligh, Phippen and O’Neal qualified for the 52nd annual Hearst Championships in San Francisco June 4-7 based on their performance in a series of monthly competitions over the past academic year. At the championships, finalists were given spot assignments by professional journalists who judged their work there and during the past year.

“Dan, Weston and Nathan represent the very best of the Cronkite School,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “We are tremendously proud of all they’ve accomplished over the past four years. They continue the strong Hearst tradition at Cronkite.”

The Hearst Journalism Awards, often called the Pulitzer Prizes of college journalism, were established by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation in 1960 to provide support, encouragement and assistance to journalism education at the college and university level. More than 100 accredited journalism schools around the country compete in the annual competition. This year’s entries numbered more than 1,000.

The program distributes more than $550,000 in scholarships and grants annually.

The Cronkite School has finished in the top 10 nationally in the Hearst Awards for the past 10 years, including first-place finishes for the 2008-2009 and 2006-2007 academic years. The school has placed first in the intercollegiate broadcast competition two out of the past three years and three out of the past six years.

Reporter , ASU Now