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Engagement in Practice: Lessons Learned While Developing Community Partners (and a New Engineering Program) for 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


Timothy J. Kennedy P.E. Abilene Christian University Orcid 16x16

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Dr.Timothy J. Kennedy P.E., is the Executive Director of Engineering and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering and Physics at Abilene Christian University. His professional experience has focused on water reuse, water and wastewater treatment. Additionally, he has an interest in point of use treatment technologies for developing regions and how to better prepare students to immediately contribute to the engineering industry.

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Lori M Houghtalen Abilene Christian University

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Lori Houghtalen is an Assistant Professor of Engineering and Physics at Abilene Christian University. She is Co-Director for Senior Clinic, the capstone senior design course, and teaches courses in the engineering and physics curriculum. Dr. Houghtalen has won awards from the National Science Foundation, Georgia Tech, the ARCS Foundation, and the Association of European Operational Research Societies. She holds degrees from the University of Tennessee and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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Real world problem solving is a desired skill of both engineering employers and engineering educators. Research has suggested that using problem based service learning in engineering is a great avenue to teach this skill. As a result, while developing curriculum for a new engineering program, faculty desired to integrate service learning as a component of the curriculum.

Beginning with a small cohort of students, a course was designed and implemented with a focus on project based service learning. In the course, faculty desired for students to work as teams to provide solutions for clients. For each project a community liaison serves as the project client, develops a problem statement, and meets with students for a kick off meeting, 50% design review, and final project handoff. Faculty had to stray outside of normal engineering circles (education and occupational therapy) to find clients, but have been able to actively work with partners who have returned and also have benefited the engineering program as well.

The project based service learning course is still in its infancy (we have completed year two), but has already helped engineering students develop real world problem solving skills while also improving the lives of hundreds of K-12 students. In this paper we will share lessons we have learned (both the successes and the failures).Specifically we will discuss soliciting, developing and maintaining relationships with community partners while also developing the course in our city to provide a unique learning opportunity for students in order to help other new engineering programs or service learning courses and our future plans of growing the course.

Kennedy, T. J., & Houghtalen, L. M. (2018, June), Engagement in Practice: Lessons Learned While Developing Community Partners (and a New Engineering Program) for Service Learning Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30388

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