June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
Community Engagement Division
Our small, liberal-arts college has a long standing tradition of service learning, and standing relationships with local after-school programs in under-served communities through our Service Learning Center. However, these service experiences have not been integrated into the engineering curriculum. The motivation to integrate engineering majors into this particular service learning project is to demonstrate to engineering students that :
- engineering careers can provide great benefit to local communities, - although just starting college studies, first-year engineers can mentor youth who may never have met an engineer, and - communication skills are crucial to practicing engineering.
For the past several years, first year students majoring in civil and mechanical engineering have been required to participate in these afterschool programs as “Engineer for a Day.” One engineering major from the class accompanies several students from other majors to an after school program to assist running a STEM activity. The importance of communication in engineering, and of practicing the communication of complex engineering topics to a general audience, is emphasized throughout the course. The engineering students complete a reflection upon return to campus, discuss the experience in class, and use the skills practiced in other projects throughout the semester.
The reflections and other collected data show that the engineering majors benefit from seeing themselves as mentors and as having something to share with the community, as well as getting out of their comfort zone and their own culture-bubble. The middle-school students benefit from meeting near-peers who are willing to give of themselves and their time, receiving an aspirational view of the future, and being exposed to STEM and STEM fields. Our next steps are to further integrate the service learning program into the engineering curriculum, with more substantial reflection and synthesis, and in mentoring each other through the experience.
Carlson, C. H., & Gatling, A. P., & Donell, K. M. (2019, June), Board 20: Engagement in Practice: First-year Students as “Engineer for a Day” for Middle School Students Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32294
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