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Community Based Service Project Learning In Civil Engineering Courses

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Sustainable and Urban Development

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.342.1 - 14.342.10

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Paper Authors

author page

Clara Fang University of Hartford

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Community-based Service Project Learning into Civil Engineering Courses


This paper describes and analyzes the experience of implementing community-based service project learning into civil engineering undergraduate courses at the University of Hartford, and considers the evidence of the impact of such learning on students and community organizations. The paper begins by discussing how such a learning module has been developed and analyzes the participatory nature of this model. The module aligns with the University’s vision of “a private university with a public purpose” based on connections to students and connections to the Hartford community. Using the transportation undergraduate class as example, each semester, students complete a semester project to perform a community-based traffic project, such as a traffic impact study to investigate the effect that a new development (e.g., Hartford Technology Pathway Magnet School) will have on the adjacent intersections and determine the need for any improvements on the surrounding roadway networks. Throughout the semester, along with the project, the lecture and lab sessions provide students with the necessary information to conduct the project. By the end of the semester, students have completed all components of the impact study through several assignments and compiled all necessary information in a final project report and presentation. These assignments include meeting with a community interest group, data collection and assembly, determination of trip generation and distribution, capacity and performance analysis using highway capacity software; an advanced computer program and report writing. In addition, students have opportunities to discuss their projects with practicing engineers who were carrying on-going real-life projects. An important part of these projects that students have to contend with is the possible lack of information sources; often the project will require some reasonable assumptions about different parts of the analysis. The experiential learning acquired through integrating real-life projects appears to compensate for some pedagogical weakness of classroom instruction. Some problems arising in coordinating between classroom concepts and community interests have been discussed. The major challenge faced is to select a suitable project that can fit into the curriculum and also student schedules. The faculty’s long-term commitment to service learning is another crucially important element. In addition, it is critical that the needs and concerns of the stakeholders are heard and incorporated during the development of the program.


Fang, C. (2009, June), Community Based Service Project Learning In Civil Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.

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