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Education Without Borders: Exploring the Achievement of ABET Learning Outcomes through Engineers Without Borders-USA

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2014 ASEE International Forum


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 14, 2014

Start Date

June 14, 2014

End Date

June 14, 2014

Conference Session

Track 3 - Session 1

Tagged Topic

Student Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

20.13.1 - 20.13.9



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Paper Authors


Kaitlin Litchfield University of Colorado, Boulder

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Kaitlin Litchfield received her undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at the University of New Hampshire and is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering Department within the Mortenson Center for Engineering in Developing Communities. Her research interest is in recruiting, educating, and retaining engineers capable of meeting global development challenges, and her current work is focused on understanding engineers involved specifically with Engineers Without Borders-USA.

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Amy Javernick-Will University of Colorado, Boulder

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Amy Javernick-Will is an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder in the Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering Department. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University and has focused her research efforts on knowledge mobilization in global organizations and projects and increasing diversity in engineering.

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Daniel Knight University of Colorado, Boulder

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Dr. Knight is the Program Assessment and Research Associate for the Design Center (DC) Colorado at the University of Colorado Boulder. Dr. Knight supports the Center from a background in engineering education and applied psychology. Dr. Knight joined CU’s College of Engineering and Applied Science in 2001 after graduate school. He has been a part time associate of DC Colorado since 2007, and became a full-time associate in August, 2013. Dr. Knight’s responsibilities include assessment and program evaluation of the Center’s hands-on design curriculum, educational research on center development, diversity and teamwork, and team facilitation for the Center’s on-going industry-sponsored teams. Dr. Knight also serves as an educational resource for other departments in the College as well.

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Education Without Borders: Exploring the Achievement of ABET Learning Outcomes through Engineers Without Borders-USAEngineers of the future are expected to obtain more skills, knowledge, and abilities in theireducation than ever before. Reports continue to expand lists of expected skills to include notonly technical skills, but also more professional, management, leadership, interdisciplinary, andglobal skills. At the same time, the undergraduate engineering curriculum is hard pressed to fitmore credits in an already overcrowded curriculum to meet ABET criteria. Extracurricularengineering activities have been shown to alleviate some of these competing demands. Thisresearch focuses on one such activity, participation in Engineers Without Borders-USA (EWB-USA), a voluntary, global service organization, in order to understand differences in ABETlearning outcomes between students involved and not involved with the organization.Using questions from the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education(CASEE), the authors created a survey to assess students’ perceived ABET learning outcomes.The survey questionnaire was sent to both undergraduate and graduate students within theengineering college at a large US research university, which yielded 566 responses. Responseswere analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U test of two independent samples for three differentcomparison groups: students involved with EWB-USA versus students not involved with theorganization; students actively involved with EWB-USA or something similar to EWB-USA(“EWB-like”) versus students not actively involved with one of these organizations; andstudents actively involved in a professional engineering organization (“active”) versus studentsnot actively involved with one of the professional engineering organizations. For additionalexploration of relationships among variables, CHAID analyses were run to determine the surveyitems that most differentiated between students for each of the three comparison groups.Results showed that EWB-USA students perceived themselves to have slightly higher technicalskills than their peers not involved with the organization, but there were no differences in theirperceived broad and holistic skills. When comparing students that were active in an EWB-likeorganization or in one of the professional engineering organizations with those that were notinvolved or active, additional statistical differences were found. Specifically, the students whowere active perceived themselves to have higher broad and holistic skills than their peers,although no differences in technical skills were found. These results align with previousresearch highlighting the benefit of organizational involvement for the achievement of ABETprofessional skills, and they show that engagement with EWB-USA may help strengthen specifictechnical and professional skills, which can assist in the preparation of more globally preparedengineers of the future. Additional results will be shared in the paper.

Litchfield, K., & Javernick-Will, A., & Knight, D. (2014, June), Education Without Borders: Exploring the Achievement of ABET Learning Outcomes through Engineers Without Borders-USA Paper presented at 2014 ASEE International Forum, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--17176

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