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Civic Engagement as a Component of Engineering Education

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Civic Engagement and Volunteerism in Engineering

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.349.1 - 26.349.13



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Paper Authors


Shoba Krishnan Santa Clara University

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Dr. Shoba Krishnan is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Santa Clara University. She has a strong interest in engineering education, and is involved in several community based activities to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in engineering. She collaborates with non-profits that are in need for technical expertise and with K-8 schools in need of STEM programs. She helped establish the IDEAS (Interdisciplinary Design Engineering And Service) program and developed the course entitled Engineering Projects for the Community in the School of Engineering which brings experiential learning into the engineering curriculum through projects with partners in both the local and global community. She has also developed the course, “STEM Outreach in the community” that provides opportunities for engineering students to go out into the community and provide hand-son activities and lessons on engineering. She was named "Woman of the Year" for 2013 for the 25th Assembly District of California for her dedication to students both inside and outside the classroom and for her role in motivating young women and other marginalized communities to pursue STEM careers.

Shoba Krishnan received her B. Tech. degree from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, India in 1987 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Michigan State University, East Lansing, in 1990 and 1993 respectively. From 1995 to 1999 she was with the Mixed-Signal Design Group
at LSI Logic Corporation, Milpitas, CA where she worked on high-speed data communication IC design and testing.

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Tonya Lynn Nilsson P.E. Santa Clara University

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Tonya Nilsson is a Lecturer in Civil Engineering at Santa Clara University (SCU), where she is also one of six Faculty Associates in their Collaborative for Teaching Innovation. Prior to joining SCU, Tonya was an Associate Professor at CSU - Chico.

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Civic Engagement as a Component of Engineering EducationEngineers in practice are required to insure their designs meet a variety of civic codes andstandards. Often the engineer is required to educate their client to the prevailing codes that affectthe project and guide them through the implications of said regulations. Typical course designprojects rarely require students to meet with a client, help the client define their actual need,develop a problem statement and determine what codes apply to their given situation.At our school, all students are required to have a civic engagement experience, which is definedas: the ability to work with the community, develop a realization of their vocation, and todevelop an understanding of the civic bodies who oversee projects that impact the public. Toprovide engineering students with a relevant engineering experience and meet the university’scivic engagement requirement, the “Engineering Projects for the Community” course wasdeveloped and has been taught for the past twelve quarters.This paper highlights a variety of projects for community clients that required students todetermine what civic requirements must be met and what public organizations play a role in theproject. These civic requirements can have a significant impact on design decisions and projectcosts and help students make informed decisions for their clients as they work with them fromproblem definition to project deliverable phases. Projects range a wide variety of engineeringmajors including civil, mechanical, electrical, bio and computer. Through the use of studysurveys and student reflections, this paper attempts to identify the influence of civic engagementon student learning and student perception of their chosen career path. As one group noted theregulations impacting their project resulted in unforeseen costs but the entities who establishedthese regulations were both purposeful and necessary to protect the environment.

Krishnan, S., & Nilsson, T. L. (2015, June), Civic Engagement as a Component of Engineering Education Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23688

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