June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
College Industry Partnerships
A collaboration between undergraduate civil engineering technology students, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) College/Underserved Community Partnership Program (CUPP), and the Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX), resulted in a senior capstone project that provided significant benefits to a municipality in rural Georgia facing economic hardship and a need to design a replacement for their insufficient municipal office building. As a result of the students’ efforts and the advisement provided by the TEX professional mentor and university faculty advisor, the students gained practical experience through the application of their engineering knowledge and skills into their real-world design. Specifically, their practical experience emanated from data collection, site visits, research of agency standards, sustainable site design and building materials, and in-person meetings and design charrettes between the students, municipal administrators, industry and university advisors, and residents of the community. The logistics of the project development and execution process was unique among typical engineering technology senior capstone projects, as it involved multiple parties to define details such as the scope of the project, the responsibilities of the mentor and faculty advisor, the communication loop between the students, client, and advisors, project scheduling and milestone dates, deliverables, etc. The outcomes of the student project include the development and design of a preliminary site plan and detailed building plans for the proposed municipal office with accompanying economic and environmental analyses. These outcomes were completed with such a high level of quality and rigor that a pro bono engineering firm stamped the engineering plans after minor revisions, and their project was highlighted as the premier student project at a regional conference. The unique predefined methodology of this project that was strictly followed from conception to completion was essential to the project’s success. Crucial tasks within this methodology include periodic pre-scheduled meetings between the students and municipal leaders, separate weekly advising sessions with the industry advsior and university advisor, and a presentation to the members of the community as their designs progressed to allow the community to voice their opinions and gain acceptance. Due to the many accomplishments and benefits that resulted from this collaborative student project, the methodology that paved the way to success can serve as a model to other institutions and government agencies interested in enhancing the undergraduate engineering technology student experience and benefiting underserved communities in need of assistance to safeguard their residents through infrastructure improvements.
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