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Engineering Design Via Team Based Service Learning Projects: Case Survey Of Five Unique Project Genres

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

FPD7 -- Service Learning

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.623.1 - 12.623.13



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Paper Authors

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Promiti Dutta Columbia University

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Alexander Haubold Columbia University

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

Engineering Design via Team-based Service-Learning Projects: Case Survey of Five Unique Project Genres Abstract:

We examine the introduction of engineering design to first-year college students via real community service-learning projects (CSLP) of five genres: (1) assistive devices, (2) civil/architectural designs, (3) educational tools, (4) information technology, and (5) urban development. Projects in each genre require different skills and approaches by students and instructors. We provide an in-depth analysis of successes and shortcomings for projects in these genres, completed as part of a first-year engineering design curriculum.

We developed a multifaceted engineering design course, whose goals are to introduce students to basic engineering design principles and professional skill methodologies, such as client interaction, teamwork, and presentation skills. Projects with community partners fulfill the need for real client interaction and robust design problems. Students gain hands-on experience from directly applying concepts taught in the course, while community partners benefit from the projects’ research and proposed solution.

Over 1000 first-year engineering students have participated in CSLP since its inception in Spring 2004. We have worked with over 50 community partners yielding more than 200 semester-length projects, some of which embark on a continuation over several semesters. Our experience complemented with extended evaluations after each semester shape the project selection task throughout the duration of the course. Decisions are based on student and client responses to evaluations and successful project utilization. The distribution of projects in the five major genres has shifted focus as a result.

Results of the program have been encouraging, as student and client satisfaction and quality of projects have increased significantly. Student evaluations show great enthusiasm for the course curriculum with most students showing interest in their intended fields of study yielding a lower transfer/drop out rate from the engineering school. The wide range of our designated project genres has enabled students with a limited technical background to better work in teams. Task distribution within teams is more balanced, resulting in a larger coverage and more thorough analysis of the project’s scope. The implicit pedagogic success is demonstrated in a more concrete understanding of basic engineering design principles and professional skills by students.

Improvements to ensure continuing success of the program largely depend on new methods to find robust projects that meet the needs of our design course. Considerations for selecting projects of a fitting genre include, among other factors, fulfilling the community partner’s need and appropriately dimensioning time of project. Further investigations regarding continuity plans are necessary for multi-semester projects.


Engineering design is defined broadly to include all activities related to the acts of conception and description of engineered products, systems, processes and services, including analysis and

Dutta, P., & Haubold, A. (2007, June), Engineering Design Via Team Based Service Learning Projects: Case Survey Of Five Unique Project Genres Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2429

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