Asee peer logo

Development Of A Material Reuse Information Guide: A Community Service Project For First Year Students

Download Paper |


2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Current Environmental Issues

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.417.1 - 8.417.8

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

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

Session 2151

Development of a Material Reuse Information Guide A Community Service Project for First Year Students

Christopher W. Swan and Cynthia Veit Tufts University


Over the last 20 years, recycling programs have developed throughout the United States and internationally. However, though “recover, recycle and reuse” (the new 3R’s) is a familiar mantra in most communities, it is the recovery; the physical act of separating waste into recyclable materials, that is the most widely known element of this triad. Once the “recycled” material is placed at the curbside or brought to the recycling center, what happens next? Researching and describing what happens next was the project of a course on the reuse of waste as construction materials. The course serves as an introductory course for first-year engineering students to see what type of work engineers may do in their professional careers. To create an appropriate, “real- world” component of the course, students were tasked to research options for recycled material reuse.

This paper describes how this effort was transformed into a community service-learning project. Community service learning, the pedagogy of combining education with community service, has value in a number of academic fields. The students in the course were assigned communities (municipalities) in Massachusetts, who have recycling programs, and were tasked with developing a Material Reuse Information Guide for community residents.

The projects were successful in a number of areas. Since they were real problems, they carried more meaning and encouraged greater student learning, enriching the students’ educational experience. Additionally, the projects not only benefited the students, but also the affected communities, providing additional information that could be delivered to their residents. This paper will also discuss the student’s reflections of what they learned about recycling by doing the project.


Why recycle? This question was posed to students in a course entitled “Waste Not, Want Not”, an introductory engineering course offered at Tufts University during the Fall 2002 semester. The course has been offered since Fall 1999 and has traditionally focused on the engineering aspects of waste reuse and recycling in the US. However, components of community service learning (CSL), which combines education with community service, were introduced as a way for

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Veit, C., & Swan, C. (2003, June), Development Of A Material Reuse Information Guide: A Community Service Project For First Year Students Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2003 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015