December 11, 2009 By Blake Harris
Photo: Photo: A student from Michigan Tech's D80 Center conducts pump tests in Bolivia. (Michigan Technological University)
Every once in a while one comes across community oriented activities that clearly illustrate the better side of human nature. Here's one example. And although IT related activities only form a small part of their broad technology spectrum, their work certainly deserves recognition.
For a number of years now, students at Michigan Technological University, from fields as diverse as environmental engineering and science education, have joined together in an umbrella organization called the D80 Center. Named for the 80 percent of the world's population that lives below the radar of the infrastructure planners and builders, the D80 Center mobilizes university students to put the skills they are learning in college to work in the field in countries around the globe.
Hundreds of students, faculty and staff have been involved in D80 programs. They say their watchword is "prosperity by design." And for many of the students involved, a key motive for studying engineering and allied subjects is simply that they want to make the world a healthier, safer, better place to live for the people at the bottom.
According to the university, Engineers Without Borders, Aqua Terra Tech, Social Entrepreneurship and Peace Corps International master's degrees are just a few of the D80 programs that provide educational, service and research opportunities for those interested in gaining valuable professional experience while making a difference in the lives of others today.
For more information about Michigan Tech's D80 Center, see: http://www.mtu.edu/d80/
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.