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Students travel to Kenya to teach youth about environmental sustainability

Students from Penn State Berks traveled to Kenya in May 2011 to teach youth at the Children and Youth Empowerment Center (CYEC) in Nyeri about the safe reuse and disposal of electronic waste. The plan was developed in partnership with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya.
The “Creative Minds” team is a group of diverse students from Penn State Berks that was brought together by their minor–Engineering Entrepreneurship. The students included seniors Linda Camacho, an IST major from Reading; Joshua Hagy, an Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology major from Denver, Timothy Heiler, a Business major from Chester Springs, and Jeffrey Wieland, an Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology major from Gilbertsville, and junior Krystle Morales, a Business major from Reading.

This initiative was coordinated by Dr. Sadan Kulturel-Konak, associate professor of Management Information Systems and coordinator of the Engineering Entrepreneurship minor.
In the fall of 2010, students enrolled in the college’s Entrepreneurial Leadership course collaborated with students at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya to determine a significant issue that Kenya is currently facing in which Berks students could provide assistance. At the end of the semester, the students decided to tackle the issue of electronic waste.

In the spring of 2011, the Berks students continued to develop the idea with the course Recycling and Product Design in Kenya. Throughout the spring semester, students progressed by establishing a plan and creating a business model. In April 2011, Berks students participated in a business idea challenge organized by the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce, and they took second place honors for their electronic waste jewelry idea.

The Creative Minds team has just returned from Kenya, where they helped the youth at the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre (CYEC) to implement the idea. Their mission for the CYEC was to be able to train and teach the youth about how to safely dismantle desktops and laptops and to create jewelry with the parts. They also taught the youth about business concepts and appropriate disposal of electronic waste.

Commented Hagy, “The items that were created by the Kenyan youth were extremely creative. They have a lot of ingenuity and learn quickly. As a team we have observed the individuality of the students and tried to tailor our workshops to embrace their ideas.”

The CYEC was established in 2006 in an effort to address several gaps in the care and rehabilitation of street children in Kenya, including training the youth in technological and entrepreneurial skills to support themselves when they leave the CYEC. The CYEC has more than 150 children in residential care and provides services for another 60 children.

For more details on the student’s initiative, please visit their blog http://ewasteatpsu.wordpress.com or contact Kulturel-Konak at sadan@psu.edu.
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