Why Did I Enroll in SDEV 201…?

I have just begun my sixth semester here at Lehigh University and I am finally getting into the heart of my education.  My classes are getting more in depth and have a greater focus on technical topics.  As an electrical engineer, the courses I take have an emphasis on math and complex circuits.  So with many difficult and narrowly focused classes, I decided to take Sustainable Development Solutions because I wanted a break from technical courses and to take one that encompasses a wide range of ideas geared towards real world progress.  Every professional in the electrical engineering field that I have talked to has admitted that they do not use a lot of the information they learned in the engineering courses.  I wanted to take Sustainable Development Solutions because the information I can learn in this subject area can help me and my fellow students have real world impacts to improve quality of life for some people. Last semester I completed the Challenges of Sustainable Development course which truly provided a complete picture of the field of sustainable development. I felt I learned the most through studying the 17 sustainable development goals set by the UN because they encompass so many different topics in the field which are all equally important.  Going in depth into the different goals really sparked a passion for solving problems in the world the best way I can. However, SDEV 201 will be different than SDEV 010 as I am now going to be focusing on a specific project that is hoping to come up with a practical solution for one of life’s problems. So, how is this course going to help me become a better electrical engineer? Well, the basis of engineering is to solve problems.  Cars were built by mechanical engineers to solve the problem of getting people from point A to point B.  Bridges were built by structural and civil engineers to get people over obstacles.  Electrical grids were designed by electrical engineers to get power across the world.  When you break down engineering, it all comes down to problem solving.  That being said, I believe that this course can make me a tremendously better electrical engineering because I’ll be practicing real world problem solving.  This project will not be completed overnight and it will take a lot of work which will help strengthen a lot of other skills that would help me become a better engineer.  I will be working with other people on this project so a lot of coordination cooperation and logistics is needed in order for this project to be a success.  However, these skills are needed to complete any job or project so improving those skills will help me in the long run.  I feel the biggest problems arise when there is a lack of communication between group members and the inability to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each member.  Working on this project and taking this course will help strengthen these important skills.  I’m also hoping that goals of this project of trying to make the world a better place will help motivate me in the future. Knowing that the work I will be doing will be improving the quality of life for some people will inspire me to continue to pursue large and complex projects that change things for the better.

I have just learned that over a billion people in the world have issues with their eyesight and have no access to eyeglasses. Most of these people live in developing countries with no access to optometrists that could provide them with eyeglasses. Without available doctors there is not an easy way to get the products they need which results in a poorer quality of life due to the disabilities and lack of opportunities associated with bad eyesight. The first step to solve this problem would have to come from donations.  An initial influx of eyeglasses could help cover the needs of the current population of people in need of glasses.  However, this is not a sustainable solution to this problem for future generations. The next step would have to be a large scale training of local doctors in regions of interest that could provide prescriptions for for years to come.  More doctors would help tremendously, but people still need access to the physical product. For this to happen a boost in manufacturing must occur in order to have the number of glasses available for the number of people in need of them.  This can only occur if the least developed countries continue to grow their manufacturing industry.  Once these developments occur, I believe the one billion people in need would drop significantly.

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