Date of Award

8-2011

Embargo Period

12-2-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Engineering and Public Policy

Advisor(s)

Elizabeth A. Casman

Second Advisor

David J. Dausey

Third Advisor

Mitchell J. Small

Fourth Advisor

Faheem Hussain

Fifth Advisor

M. Bernadine Dias

Abstract

This research contributes to efforts in assessment studies related to science and technology interventions. The work presented in this thesis focuses on understanding the effects of policies that influence science and technology interventions, and determining the impact of science and technology interventions themselves.

Chapter 1 explores how the USA PATRIOT and Bioterrorism Preparedness Acts affected scientific progress. Regulations and guidance stemming from these pieces of legislation placed restrictions on microbiological research involving certain dangerous pathogens, including B. anthracis and Ebola virus. On a macro level, results indicated that research involving virulent strains of these organisms was not inhibited by the biosecurity laws. The most striking negative effect was a loss of efficiency.

Chapter 2 examines a pilot research intervention in information and communication technology for development (ICTD). Initial assessments in the field indicated that technology has the potential to be successfully implemented in an underserved community. Researchers’ experience in the field also identified the challenges and rewards of conducting field research in ICTD.

Chapter 3 presents the PREval (Pilot Research Evaluation) framework, which was developed to address the specific needs and challenges of ICTD field researchers. This framework draws from established evaluation techniques and other available resources on project assessment, but offers instructions customized for ICTD pilot research interventions. Initial testing of the concept behind PREval indicated that it can be feasibly applied to a range of ICTD projects and has the potential to add value to ICTD pilot project evaluations.

Chapter 4 demonstrates the potential for an assistive technology tool to impact a developing community in the long term. This study examined whether the use of the Braille Writing Tutor could be sustained within the Mathru School for the Blind in India. Sustainability was explored at the micro level based on three dimensions: financial, technological and social. Findings suggest that this assistive technology is financially and socially sustainable given the current conditions at the Mathru School. However, the technology can be modified to render it more technologically sustainable at this location.

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