By Matthew Cossel '17
On December 4, 2016, Lehigh graduate student Michael Horgan, ‘16 ‘17G, will be running on behalf of Caring for Cambodia’s Race to Better Education in the Angkor Wat half marathon to raise $10,000 for a Lehigh University computer science and business program database project that is utilized by Cambodian teachers to take attendance, among other administrative tasks.
Dr. Sothy Eng, professor of practice in the comparative and international education master’s program and director of the Caring for Cambodia partnership, said that they determined Cambodian teachers spent three to four hours per week on hand-writing attendance and other administrational activities. Lehigh University’s Caring for Cambodia set out to fix this problem.
A Partnership Between the College of Education and Computer Science and Business
In 2013, Caring for Cambodia and the sustainability department reached out to Ronald Crane, an adjunct professor of computer science and engineering, to help.
“It’s not really a partnership as it is a collaboration,” Crane said.
After looking at what Caring for Cambodia was doing, Crane said that he came to the conclusion that the Computer Science and Business students could either create a database system from scratch or they could find one that’s already been created. They found one that was 85 percent complete, Crane said, and his students work to fill in the gaps as needed.
“The whole goal is to raise money for the database project,” Horgan said. Horgan and 100+ Cambodian teachers will be running in the half marathon for Caring for Cambodia.
None of this money will go to Lehigh, Crane said. It will all go toward cloud-based storage, hardware and labor to keep this database functional for the education system in Cambodia.
Computer Science and Business students work on this project for their capstone that is required for their graduation, Crane said. Students work on the project for two semesters with the first being how to manage IT projects and the second actually building the product, he said.
“19 students have helped [with the project] over the past three years,” Crane said.
Horgan, the former president of Lehigh’s Caring for Cambodia club, traveled to Cambodia with the Global Citizenship program 2 years ago.
“Opportunities build on each other,” Horgan said. Without the Global Citizenship program and the trip it took him on, he would not be going to run the marathon this winter, he said.
“It was the most important experience of my college career and my life,” he said, and now that relationship is sending him back.
“I thought of Mike right away,” Eng said about when he received notification of the marathon, “I saw it and sent him an email right away.”
“I was like 20 or 30 percent sure he would do it,” he said, “but we met the next day and Mike was 100 percent sure he would do it.”
Horgan said his original plan was to race competitively in the marathon but a recent knee injury has forced him to rethink this ambition. He said that he is excited to run alongside the teachers instead, as he believes that will be even more rewarding.
Horgan will fly out on Friday, December 2, run the race on Sunday and return on Monday.
The next push for the database project is health information about the students, Crane said. There is currently a ‘food for thought’ program in the schools where 2 meals per day but there has not been any evidence about its effectiveness, he said, and health information could help to show qualitative data about such a correlation.
“Lehigh has so many great global opportunities on and off campus,” Horgan said, “I am grateful to have this opportunity and I can’t wait to go back.”