Global Summers: Senior Design in Jordan - Just another University of St. Thomas Blogs site

7 Tips for an Unforgettable Global Learning Experience

1. Learn the regional language (as best as you can)

Casey, speaking exclusively in Arabic, directing Erik (blindfolded) around school.

2. Be family with your host family

Erik and his host-brother driving around Amman.


3. Talk to locals

In the (small) basement of St. George’s Church in Madaba.

4. Be a learner

Dr. Raed serving Arabic coffee to the team.

5. Spend your money wisely

Food is always a good choice.

6. Explore

Wadi Rum at Sunrise.

7. Explore more!


Touring, but not Tourists!

Throughout our trip, we have been reminded: “You are touring, but not tourists!”

This phrase has rung true for all our adventures in Jordan—SIT has taken the lead on showing us the culture and region of Jordan through the lens of learners and engineers.

Be prepared for a lot of photos of these adventures from our last three weeks!

View of the King Talal Reservoir and Royal Botanic Garden of Jordan.





The SIT engineering students at the Royal Botanic Garden with Dr. Mustafa, Dr. Raed, and Majd.

Dr. Mustafa, the director of programs at the Royal Botanic Garden (RBG), showed us the garden’s success in cultivating and cataloging native Jordanian plant life.  Currently, Sydney, Macartney, and Serena are working on a project with the RBG to inform and educate visitors on water scarcity in Jordan.

Sydney, Macartney, Serena, and Erik at the Citadel in Amman.


Shenanigans atop Mount Nebo.

We also had the chance to visit historical monuments such as the Citadel and Mt. Nebo.  From the top of Mt. Nebo on a clear day, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea are visible.

Effortlessly floating in the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.

Casey, Macartney, and Erik overlooking the Dead Sea at sunset.

The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, is actually getting lower—about one meter every year.  The rate of evaporation currently exceeds that which the Jordan River and other water sources provide.  A multi-billion-dollar project, dubbed the Red-Dead project, plans to form a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead sea.  It would take advantage of the elevation difference to desalinate water, produce power, and replenish the Dead Sea.

Sights on an 8.5-mile hike through Wadi Ghuweir in the Dana Biosphere Reserve.

























A view of our lodging at Al-Nawatef Camp in Dana.

After a long week of work on our projects, we planned a short, overnight trip to the Dana Biosphere Reserve.  It is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive south of Amman, and it was well worth it.  Wadi Ghuweir provided amazing views of water-carved stone, natural pools, and flourishing plant life.  Our minds may have had time to rest and appreciate the nature, but the long hike put our bodies through the ringer.

Dr. Raed cooking a traditional dish for the team in the badiya of Jordan.

Taking a break at the public water fountain in the ancient city of Jerash.

Just this week, we water-hiked through Wadi Al-Mujib, a freshwater source flowing into the Dead Sea.  The hike featured natural waterslides, towering waterfalls, and a lazy river-like ride back to the entrance (“lazy” until you have to avoid intimidating rapids and boulders).

Water hiking through Wadi Al-Mujib with Majd and Sara.

Thanks for reading!

As we look forward to our last two weeks in-country, we continue to admire and learn about Jordan’s vibrant culture.  Stay tuned for more posts!


What do Jameed to make Mansaf?

In the words of Dr. Raed, “Mansaf is the #1 dish in Jordan!”

Dr. Raed and his beloved mansaf.

Mansaf is the national dish of Jordan—a high distinction for a simple plate of rice, lamb, shrak (bread), and yogurt sauce. In reality, this delicious recipe isn’t simple at all. Even the yogurt sauce has a complex recipe, and it directly relates to our reason for traveling to Jordan. Jameed is the primary ingredient in the yogurt sauce of mansaf. Prior to its use in the sauce, jameed is sold as dehydrated “brick” of yogurt. In this dehydrated form, it is no longer prone to microbial spoilage, increasing the shelf-life of the product.

Jameed we found in a local supermarket.

Being that Mansaf is the national dish of Jordan, jameed is an important commodity to the region. Near the city of Amman, the Nqaireh Women’s Cooperative (NWC) produces jameed as a means of generating income for the local women.

A batch of jameed dehydrating at the NWC.

Currently, jameed can only be dehydrated during the summer months of Jordan. The process takes about 10 days to reach a satisfactory level of dehydration. Over the last two weeks, we have been testing the Jameed Dehydrator Prototype made by last year’s team. We have already made changes and designed improvements for the next version of the device.

Jameed Dehydrator 1.0.

Ultimately, we hope to design a device that produces a large batch of jameed in five days or less. Not
only would this device cut down production time, it would also allow for the consistent production of
jameed throughout the year—not just the summer. This will help to provide a consistent, year-round
income for the women of the NWC. Stay tuned for more photos and updates on our adventures in Jordan!



Marhabaa, Jordan!

After 24 hours of travel with layovers in Chicago and London, we finally arrived in Amman! Dr. Raed Al-Tabini and his assistant, Majd, drove us from the airport to the hotel where we met the engineering students we are studying with Serena Riddle, a Mechanical Engineering major from Yale University, Sydney Seto, an Environmental Engineering major from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Macartney Ewing, a Mechanical Engineering Major from the University of Florida.

Team Jordan with Dr. Raed.

Our first day was spent catching up from jet lag and completing our first orientation.  On our second day, we were split into two teams and tasked with finding specific landmarks in the city.  We explored parks, museums, cafes, and architectural sites.

Erik and Patrick enjoying lunch with Serena, Sydney, and Macartney.

Erik and Casey enjoying lunch at Hashem, a favorite of the locals.

A view of Amman at sunset.









In total, seven of us are taking engineering courses at the School of International Training (SIT).  Paired with the engineering coursework, we are learning “Survival Arabic”, a beginner’s class in the Arabic language.  Outside of the classroom, engineering design projects are delineated to different teams.  While UST’s Team Jordan has already been assigned a project on the Jameed Dehydrator, our classmates, Serena, Sydney, and Macartney will be exploring problems in the local community and developing solutions to those problems.


Our first lecture on Water, Energy, and Food with Dr. Maha Al-Zu’bi.


2019 Team Jordan Draft

Over the last few months, Team Jordan has been preparing for the trek to Amman. However, in about one week, the 2019 NBA Draft is taking place. So, in the spirit of the season, I would like to introduce Team Jordan with a “draft” of the members from St. Thomas! Each “pick” is accompanied with a short bio, three fun facts, and individual strengths in a team setting. The draft and order of the picks do not designate expertise or skill, but simply introduce each member of Team Jordan to our readers.

With the first pick in the 2019 Team Jordan Draft, the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering selects: Patrick Roy Jackson from Edina, Minnesota.

Patrick is a senior mechanical engineering student who will be minoring in sustainability. He is interested in pursuing a career in the renewable energy industry. His family consists of an older brother (Cameron, 24), a twin sister (Eileen, 21), a mother (Kelly, undisclosed), and a father (Jamie, undisclosed).

Patrick Jackson

Fun Facts about Patrick:

  • His favorite class of animal is cephalopod
  • His favorite musical artist is Beyoncé but he also listens to Britney Spears regularly
  • He likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain

According to the Belbin Team Roles assessment, Patrick’s strengths include confidence, generating ideas, and being perceptive.





With the second pick in the 2019 Team Jordan Draft, the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering selects: Andrew Hudson Morgenstern from Apple Valley, Minnesota.

Andrew Hudson Morgenstern

Andrew is a fifth-year mechanical engineering student with minors in material science and engineering, aerospace studies, and justice and peace studies. In addition to his studies, Andrew is an Air Force ROTC cadet at UST’s 410th Cadet Wing. Recently he has had several papers published for his research on magnetic composite material for 3D printing. For fun he likes to play games and play ultimate frisbee with his friends and three brothers.

Fun facts about Andrew:

  • He grew up on the Crimean Peninsula while it still was a part of Ukraine
  • He once had the opportunity to hold lion cubs and pet a tiger at a zoo
  • He loves anything having to do with frisbees


According to the Belbin Team Roles assessment, Andrew’s strengths include adaptability, thriving on pressure, and confidence.


With the third pick in the 2019 Team Jordan Draft, the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering selects: Casey Jason Capone Bennet from Chisago City, Minnesota.

Casey Jason Capone Bennet

Fun facts about Casey:

  • He is a HUGE Liverpool Fan
  • As a 10-year-old, he ran into a tree and broke his elbow
  • He likes to say: “throw an X up”

According to the Belbin Team Roles assessment, Casey’s strengths include strategy, discernment, and organization.





With the final pick in the 2019 Team Jordan Draft, the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering selects: Erik Isaiah McAvery Davis from Hopkins, Minnesota.

Erik will graduate this fall with a major in mechanical engineering.  He is returning to the Middle East for a second summer in a row and looks forward to drinking Arabic coffee every day

Erik Davis

At St. Thomas, he is a leader in Cru where he coordinates weekly meetings and leads vocals for music.  He has three older brothers named Joel, Ryan, and Kyle; all born to Brian & Kalli Davis.

Fun facts about Erik:

  • He is six feet, nine inches tall
  • His favorite video game is Super Smash Brothers
  • He is frustrated that Chacos don’t typically come in his shoe size

According to the Belbin Team Roles assessment, Erik’s strengths include reliability, adaptability, and organization.


Welcome Erik!

Henry Petroski, a famous American engineer once said, “As Engineers, we are going to be in a position to change the world – not just study it.”

Erik Davis

Erik Davis, a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of St. Thomas plans to do great things this summer for his Senior Design Project in Jordan. Erik and a team of four will be working with the Women Nqaireh Charity by developing a more efficient method to dehydrate Jameed. Besides Erik’s involvement academically, he enjoys singing in worship and in acapella settings, cliff jumping (especially in the Iron Ridge), and is a former student athlete on the UST basketball team. This will be Erik’s second consecutive summer in the Middle East. Be sure to tune into Erik’s blog posts regarding his adventures and project highlights in Jordan this summer!


The Lowest Point on the Earth

How hot is it really near the Dead Sea? Well, as we got closer and closer to the Sea in our air conditioned bus, we noticed a truck spraying water all over the parking lot of the resort. We were then made aware this is necessary because the pavement gets so hot that car tires will melt if there’s no water to cool the pavement. This frightened us greatly. As you step off the bus the heat hits you live a freight train. However, the day we went to the Dead Sea it was a cool 102° F, a bit chilly by their standards. After a big meal at the resort we headed directly to the salty waters to see what all the hoopla was about. And wow, was is amazing. Like you hear from anyone who’s been to the Dead Sea, you literally just float on the surface of the water with no effort whats so ever. It’s mind boggling! The only problem is there is no escaping the heat. The water is just as hot as the air temperature. Of course we did the classic tourist pictures with newspaper in hand (see picture) and also the Dead Sea spa treatment to make our skin shine. All in all it was an amazing and memorable day.


What do Jameed?

Visited the Women’s Co-operative and not only saw how jameed was made but got to sample it and a variety of derivations. The project is making way and there’s still lots left to do.

The women’s charity we visited is doing amazing work thanks to their founder Samiya. They empower women and children by providing English, Math, and Computer courses and job training. They  are funded by the grants and the income they bring in from food productions. Samiya founded and built this organization in 1994 risking her career and economic comfort for the future of other women. It’s an honor to be working for and in collaboration with such an impactful organization.

Separating the fat from the milk

Shaping it to be dried

Jameed feast


Fun Facts

1. Week days in Jordan are from Sunday to Thursday while the weekend is Friday and Saturday

2. Jordan is #4 for water scarcity in the world

3. 40% of Jordan’s population are refugees

4. Nick can tell you his age in Arabic (maybe)

5. When riding taxis, women must always ride in the back


6. Berry in Arabic is “toot” and apricot in Arabic is “mish mish”

7. If you pet a stray cat enough, they will wait for you to come outside or come home while scratching up your leg

8. Soda cans are opened by pull tabs

9. You can walk from the Roman Amphitheater to the Citadel just by a few (steep) staircases

10. American movies are shown and released at the same time while also still being in English with Arabic subtitles

11. If you think you’re s safe from mosquito bites at night with all the windows closed…you’re wrong



It’s the end of our first full week and how time has flown. We’ve been to the Ministry of Environment and the Royal Botanical Garden learning about environmental issues and designing solutions from Jordanian professionals. Our experiences in our homestays have been just as interesting and exciting. Ramadan is coming to an end as well and Jordan will be celebrating Eid.

Royal Botanical Garden of Jordan


Selfie with the one and only Dr. Raed

Jordan’s water scarcity is largely attributed to the increasing number of refugees coming into Jordan from surrounding countries. The diversity and mix of cultures is astounding but you never hear or see problems of racism or discrimination. While the severity of other problems are more often heard, it is nice to see how despite the conflicts upon them it’s still possible for everyone to easily accept one another into brotherhood or sisterhood. This may be due to their Islamic faith but how nice it is to see that despite the current surrounding conflicts, embracing the humanity of others is not one of them. It’s cool to see how Jordanians are both welcoming in their homes and their country.