We will reallocate new and existing support structures (e.g., grants, professional development, term appointments, conference travel, and academic leaves) so that faculty members are encouraged to develop innovative courses or experiential learning course components. Academic Affairs will co-host workshops in The Collaborative for Learning and Teaching for faculty interested in integrating experiential learning pedagogies in their courses. As engaged and experiential learning becomes an increasingly visible element of our campus culture, faculty will be rewarded for their efforts in the context of the promotion and tenure process and the annual performance review process.
Brooks County, three hours south of San Antonio, has become one of the deadliest stretches of land for migrants crossing into the United States, with many dying from heatstroke and dehydration.
In the spring of 2016, education professor Angela Breidenstein and engineering professor Mehran Aminian led a group of 13 senior engineering students in addressing the problem. As part of Trinity University’s engineering design projects, the team partnered with the South Texas Human Rights Center (STHRC), which oversees the Water Station Project, a network of 90 water stations consisting of a barrel with six jugs of water and an aluminum flagpole, spread over 1200 square miles.
While the Water Station Project has been around since 2013, the STHRC tasked these professors’ students with improving the system.
“What appealed to me about this project was the urgency of it,” said James Regan ’17, one of the students involved in the work.
The Trinity team helped add insulation to the barrels to keep the water cooler, sensors to detect potential vandalism and damage, a green LED strip to keep the apparatus visible at night, and designed a user-friendly website to help volunteers stay updated on the status and locations of each barrel.
All of these components will eventually be combined to create a life-saving and approachable structure in Brooks County.
Funding for Trinity’s senior design projects is provided by the engineering department, courtesy of generous donations from board members, alumni, and parents. To learn more about engineering science at Trinity, visit their webpage.