Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 95–116 | Cite as

A Systemic Framework to Develop Sustainable Engineering Solutions in Rural Communities in Colombia

Case Study: Ingenieros sin Fronteras Colombia
  • María Catalina RamírezEmail author
  • Jaime Plazas
  • Camilo Torres
  • Juan Camilo Silva
  • Luis Camilo Caicedo
  • Miguel Angel González


In several rural areas in Colombia there is a serious lack of water quality supply. Thereby the problematic situation is understood as complex one that involves stakeholders with pluralistic interests, multiple variables and requires the development of sustainable and suitable solutions. In order to address this issue, this paper proposes an integration of engineering design framework (CDIO) with a systemic approach. Particularly the approach emphasizes on systemic elements such as autonomy, systems within systems, cooperation between stakeholders and cause effect relations; it also proposes a previous observing phase for engineering design framework. Thus the proposed systemic framework aims to generate projects that improve living conditions in rural communities and promote the production of knowledge between the stakeholders to ensure sustainability in the long term. To illustrate the proposal, this work contains a case study that discusses a project carried out by a research team—Ingenieros Sin Fronteras Colombia—in a rural district near to Colombia’s capital. The experience, which involved and benefited 16 families in the community, provided strong evidence to support the proposed framework. The paper concludes with a discussion about the replication of this proposal in other contexts.


Systemic approach CDIO ISF Colombia Sustainable engineering solutions Rural community development Vulnerable communities 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • María Catalina Ramírez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jaime Plazas
    • 2
  • Camilo Torres
    • 3
  • Juan Camilo Silva
    • 1
  • Luis Camilo Caicedo
    • 1
  • Miguel Angel González
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Industrial EngineeringUniversidad de los AndesBogotáColombia
  2. 2.Environmental EngineeringUniversity of IllinoisUrbana-ChampainUSA
  3. 3.Department of Civil EngineeringCorporación Universitaria Minuto de DiosBogotáColombia

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