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Engagement in Practice: A Case Study on Improving Community Sustainability through Service Learning

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engagement in Practice: Creating a Robust Infrastructure for Community Engagement

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

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Paper Authors


Jennifer Lyn Benning South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Dr. Jennifer Benning is an Associate Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. She is also the creator and Program Coordinator of a Sustainable Engineering Minor Degree Program and the Program Coordinator for the Global Engineering Minor Degree Program. Her main research expertise is in contaminant transport, with foci on transport processes in the subsurface and indoor environments. She also conducts research in service learning and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education.

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Andrea E Surovek South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Dr. Andrea Surovek. P.E. is a research scientist in the area of biomimicry for sustainable construction at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. She is a fellow of both ASCE and the ASCE Structural Engineering Institute and was awarded the ASCE Winter award in 2016 for contributions to the field of structural engineering. She is the recipient of the ASEE CE Division Seeley Fellowship and the Mechanics Division Beer and Johnston Outstanding New Mechanics Educator Award. She received her PhD from Georgia Tech, and also holds degrees In Civil Engineering and in Visual and Performing Arts from Purdue University

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Christopher R. Shearer South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Shearer is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. His research investigates the chemical, physical, and mechanical properties and durability performance of infrastructure materials, with a focus on sustainable concrete materials technology. He also researches new strategies to improve STEM education.

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In 2011, the City of Rapid City, South Dakota established the Rapid City Sustainability Committee (RCSC) whose mission is to encourage education, stewardship, and policy leadership to increase the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of the community. The 12-member committee is a volunteer-based committee that has awarded projects, hosted conferences, and supported policies; however, the committee has not historically been able to make a significant impact in the community. One significant issue in the community is that a 2017 American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) scorecard on state efficiency policies ranked South Dakota at 49th in the nation. Following the concern of the RSCS over this report, in the fall semester of 2017, an official partnership between the RSCS and the Engineering and Science Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT) was created, allowing students to earn course credits for partnering with the committee to investigate, monitor, and plan an initiative for improving the energy efficiency of city buildings to meet Energy Star Building Certification. The creation of the student design team has had an unexpected, positive impact on the RCSC and its potential impact through the development of unanticipated partnerships in the community. Members of the RSCS have offered professional advising to team representing several local industries, included Black Hills Energy, Xanterra Parks and Resorts (managers of concessions at Mount Rushmore National Monument), and the Rapid City National Guard Camp. It suggests that community engagement by the institution, and in particular by the EPICS service-learning program, has the potential to have a substantively greater impact on the community than the impact of any single project through increased engagement by community partners. This paper will discuss the partnership development, methods, and preliminary results for this case study.

Benning, J. L., & Surovek, A. E., & Shearer, C. R. (2018, June), Engagement in Practice: A Case Study on Improving Community Sustainability through Service Learning Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30378

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