Student Feature – Matthew Bentley

Matthew Bentley Matthew Bentley

PhD Environmental Engineering

Expected EDC Certificate Completion: Fall 2017

Undergraduate: Union University, B.S. Mechanical Engineering

What are your hobbies outside of academic life?

Backpacking, camping, running, hiking, tennis, soccer, coffee, guitar, hanging out with friends, reading, building furniture, viewing art.

How did you become interested in global development?

I taught English in a South Korean school for North Korean refugees for two months during my undergraduate degree, where I first observed the vast needs of the developing world. Later that year I participated on an engineering project to redesign a rocket mass heater for use in rural Morocco. The national partners from the community development agency we worked with had a profound effect on me, and I realized that I was gifted with the skill of engineering in order to help build more sustainable communities worldwide. Since then I have traveled to an additional 2 countries and worked in refugee resettlement for refugees from around the world in Nashville, TN.

Why did you join the EDC program?

I joined the EDC program because I saw it as the best way for me to prepare for a career in development while advancing my engineering skill. The program merges my engineering background, classes, and research with community development theory, practice, and fieldwork. I think the program is a valuable way to learn how to apply engineering appropriately in the developing world.

What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned from the EDC program?

The most valuable thing I’ve learned from the EDC program is the importance of community. I need to learn how to interact in community with other practitioners and workers who have unique perspectives and ideas, because together we can discover creative solutions to problems that I might otherwise neglect. I’ve also learned the importance of applying development in community. By involving communities we can promote longevity and sustainability of the engineering interventions we implement.

Where do you hope to complete your practicum?

My hope to work in South or East Asia in the area of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH). My experience with refugees gives me a particular desire to work with vulnerable populations, providing clean water and sanitation to the poor. I’m looking into groups that use ceramic filters, rainwater catchment systems, and other appropriate technologies for the developing world, and I would like to learn from them how to build community capacity while meeting their needs for clean water.

What do you hope to do after completing your EDC certificate?

After completing the certificate (and finishing graduate school), my hope is to move to Asia with my wife and begin working in community development.

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