Innovation in Engineering Design for Global Challenges
This is the Virtual Refugee Exchange Initiative [VREI]
[vrei] A Romanian phrase meaning “Do you want to?”
The USC Viterbi School of Engineering has launched a design and innovation
initiative that will bring together university students from our Los Angeles campus
and refugee students who have had their educations interrupted due to armed conflict, persecution, famine or environmental disasters. They will come together as teams of innovators through a virtual collaborative exchange to design, build and implement solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing the world’s 68.5 million refugees and internally displaced people.
“The camp feels like a prison, or worse: like hell . . .”
— Syrian refugee, on Camp Moria in Lesvos, Greece
“You cannot look into the eyes of a child who is dying from a disease caused by drinking dirty water — something that rarely, if ever, happens in the United States — and not feel changed. You cannot stand before her parents without thinking, “I’m an engineer. There must be something I can do.”
— Bernard Amadei, founder, Engineers Without Borders
By leveraging the resources of academia, private enterprise and NGOs, we want to create an agile collaborative community that brings immediate, scalable solutions to the refugee crisis. This community will give refugee students and their global partners the resources and skills to become global entrepreneurs. The longterm goal of this initiative is to provide a prototype for training a global task force of emergency response engineers trained to innovate quickly and effectively in chaotic environments. This course can then be replicated at other universities and engineering schools around the world.