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Engineering - ENG 398 South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Winter Break
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Restrictions: Illinois applicants only
Budget Sheets Winter Break
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The Design Thinking for Social Innovation in
South Africa

ENG 398: Special Topics Section DTS

Capetown Image 1 


Cape Town is located at the southwestern tip of South Africa on the Cape Peninsula and is the capital of the Western Cape Province as well as the legislative capital of South Africa. Nicknamed the “Mother City,” Cape Town is consistently rated as one of the top travel destinations in the world. Nestled within the picturesque natural surroundings of Table Mountain National Park, UNESCO Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site, and beautiful bays and beaches, it is the second most populous urban area in South Africa (after Johannesburg) and is a vibrant, cosmopolitan, and multicultural city.  South Africa also has a rich and complicated history with its struggle for democracy and resistance over racism and oppression, and Cape Town is home to many leaders of the anti-apartheid movement. The city contains important sites with historical significance such as District Six, where forced removals displaced over 60,000 residents during the apartheid regime as well as Robben Island in Table Bay, where Nelson Mandela and others were held as political prisoners during the apartheid era.
Contemporary Cape Town has experienced rapid development in multiple sectors of industry, including tourism and a real estate and construction boom, which resulted in part from the 2010 World Cup. Despite positive social and economic gains and foreign investment in the country over the past two decades, the legacy of apartheid coupled with the influence of globalization have often exacerbated existing social issues and income inequalities. The country continues to be socio-economically stratified by race. Spatial segregation manifested in the urban planning of formal townships and emergence of informal settlements contributes to the concentration of poverty, unemployment, crime, and lack of adequate education and social services. It is in this unique socio-cultural context that social innovation and entrepreneurship are beginning to flourish as people are using their creativity, passion, and hard work to address some of the most pressing social, economic, and environmental problems affecting the community.



  • 3.0 GPA minimum
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • No foreign language requirement for this program
  • Passport valid for 6 months after program dates and with at least two blank visa pages
  • Visa may be required.
  • Open to Non-Engineering, with priority given to College of Engineering Students


This service-learning course explores topics related to social innovation and sustainable development in contemporary South Africa. Through case studies, discussion, and interactive activities, students will develop skills in the application of design thinking for social innovation and gain a deeper understanding of the role of engineering in social innovation. Students will work with community partners in Cape Town, South Africa to conceptualize and develop projects that can address genuine social, economic, environmental and/or technical problems of interest to community stakeholders. On-campus course meetings begin the week of 10/23/17 (TR 12:30-1:50 p.m.).
The course includes a faculty-led trip to Cape Town during winter intersession (tentative dates: 12/26/17-1/14/18), in which students engage in short-term service-learning internships with nonprofit partners in work related to conservation, environmental sustainability, and community development. Students can expect to enhance their communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and intercultural skills while learning with and from community partners. Educational and cultural excursions will be included (e.g., Robben Island UNESCO World Heritage Center, District Six Museum, Cape Peninsula Tour, Table Mountain) as well as opportunities to learn more about the work of social innovators in Khayelitsha Township.
ENG 398 Course
All accepted students must participate in orientation meetings and enroll in a 2nd 8-week Fall 2017 course, ENG 398: Special Topics Section DTS (Design Thinking for Social Innovation in South Africa). This is a 3-credit course with no course prerequisites (CRN: 69673).
For inquiries about the course, contact Valeri Werpetinski, Director of the Learning in Community Program, at



For the costs associated with this program, please scroll to the top of this page and find the box labeled “Budget Sheets” and click on the term during which you want to participate.
Financial Aid
Financial aid can be applied to the cost of the program.  The applicable amount depends on your financial aid package.  For information, please visit or email



  International Programs in Engineering (IPENG) Application: 
  1. Click the Apply Now button at the top-right of this page to apply.  You may only apply to one program per term. Log in with your UIUC netid and password. Once you start the application you will be charged a non-refundable application fee.
  2.  Submit all application materials by the deadline listed below.  
Online materials are due by 11:59 pm (CST) on the deadline date; paper materials are due by 4:45 pm (CST) the following business day.
After the application deadline, we will review all completed applications and nominate students for available spots in each exchange program. Application decisions are released two to three weeks after each deadline.


Group housing with double rooms and shared bathroom facilities will be arranged in a rented house in the Cape Town neighborhood of Observatory. Breakfast supplies will be available for in-home dining, catered packed lunches are provided for most days, and catered dinners are delivered at home and/or available at the Forex Bar & Restaurant in Observatory. Some meals will be dine-out at restaurants in Cape Town.


If you need to change the program you applied to or withdraw your application, please refer to the Withdraw, Cancellation and Refund Policy for the procedure and the fees that will be incurred.


Capetown Combined


International Programs in Engineering (IPENG)
210 Engineering Hall
1308 West Green Street
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 244-0054


Hours:  Mondays – Thursdays 1:00 pm - 4:00 PM (CST) Walk-ins
                 Otherwise by appointment, to schedule an appointment email


Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Winter Break 2017-2018 10/05/2017
10/10/2017 12/26/2017 01/14/2018

Indicates that deadline has passed
This program is currently not accepting applications.