June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Community Engagement Division
Legitimacy and human interactions are not always considered in engineering education. In this research, we demonstrate that these are essential for the success of a community-based engineering project. A team of 20 student interns, highly diverse in age, background, field of study, and level of education, worked together with multiple city and community partners on a set of nine projects focused on a challenged neighborhood surrounding a degraded urban creek. This summer project revealed multiple sources of success, challenge, and engagement that could not have been predicted beforehand. In this paper we discuss 1) the emergent nature of legitimacy of leadership, 2) organization within the community, 3) responsiveness to unexpected events, such as a shooting in a park central to the project a week prior to its beginning, and 4) the outcome of authentic learning and completion of projects. We demonstrate that a certain degree of improvisation must be accepted as part of the nature of a community-based project. We show that interpersonal relations of the student interns are as essential as the technical, environmental, and scientific aspects of an engineering education. We assess the interpersonal dimensions as they were both formally and informally fostered, in part through analysis of the strength of social networks and proximity maps, as well as through qualitative analysis of student reflections and participant observation of interactions and their transformations during the 10 weeks of the internship. Finally, we define effectiveness not simply as technical accomplishment but as acceptability by the community expected to benefit from the proposed projects. Our findings should have implications for any community-based internships that aim to provide engineering students with outside-the-classroom opportunities.
Huggins, K., & Barnes, A., & Blum, S. D., & Brockman, J. B., & Gilot, G. A. (2017, June), Engagement in Practice: Not Just Technical Education; An Anthropological Perspective on a Community-Based Engineering Internship Program Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28234
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