The TechBridgeWorld research group at Carnegie Mellon University introduced iSTEP (innovative Student Technology ExPerience) in 2009 as a unique internship program that provides Carnegie Mellon students with the opportunity to conduct technology research projects in developing communities.
The goal of iSTEP is to provide students with real-world experience in applying their knowledge and skills for creative problem-solving in unfamiliar settings. iSTEP interns benefit from a well-structured unique experience that better prepares them for succeeding in an increasingly global economy. Past iSTEP interns have exhibited tremendous personal and professional growth as a result of their real-world experiences conducting research in developing community settings.
The multidisciplinary iSTEP team is typically comprised of a mix of undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni from various departments at Carnegie Mellon University. They are set up to work in a globally-distributed team over the summer with some team members working with TechBridgeWorld faculty and staff from campus while other members are living and working at the overseas partner location.
TechBridgeWorld works closely with various departments within the university concerning travel and safety issues, research clearance, legal agreements, human resources, and financial issues.
Together with TechBridgeWorld faculty and staff, the iSTEP team works on technology research projects for underserved communities in collaboration with local partners. Together, they work closely with local partners in developing communities and contributes technical expertise by inventing new tools and customizing existing technology. Project work from the internship will result in papers co-authored by iSTEP interns to be submitted to upcoming ICTD (Information and Communication Technologies for Development) and other relevant conferences for publication.
The key objectives for the iSTEP internship model are listed below.
Innovative and sustainable solutions
Industry and community partnerships
Creative problem solving
Impact in underserved communities
Projects with strong computing focus
Projects that require diverse skills
Globally distributed teams
Effective dissemination of outcomes