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Engineering Service Learning: Case Study on Preparing Students for the Global Community

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Community Engagement in Engineering Education: Program Models

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.554.1 - 25.554.16



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Paper Authors


Shoba Krishnan Santa Clara University

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Shoba Krishnan received her B. ech. degree from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, India, in 1987, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Michigan State University, East Lansing, in 1990 and 1993, respectively. From 1995 to 1999, she was with the Mixed-Signal Design Group at LSI Logic Corporation, Milpitas, Calif., where she worked on high-speed data communication IC design and testing. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, Calif. Her research interests include analog and mixed-signal integrated circuit design and testing with projects in high-speed data communication systems with special emphasis on clock and data I/O circuits. She also works on characterization and modeling of carbon nanotubes as interconnect material. She is currently branching into curriculum and research development in electronic instrumentation for bioengineering and power electronics for renewable energy systems. She is the Advisor of the IEEE and the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) student chapters at SCU. She has a strong interest in engineering education and is involved in several community-based activities to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in engineering.

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Tonya Lynn Nilsson P.E. Santa Clara University

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Tonya Nilsson is a full-time lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering at Santa Clara University. Previously, she was on the faculty at California State Univeristy, Chico, where she was a tenured Associate Professor. Nilsson has a strong interest in engineering education and worked for seven years with ASCE’s ExCEED Teaching Workshops and served for four years on the national ASCE, Committee on Faculty Development. She is also a member of SCU School of Engineering’s NSF “Engage” team.

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Engineering Service Learning– Case Study on preparing students for the global communityToday’s engineering students need to be proficient not only in engineering and science principlesbut also be aware of the interplay among science, technology, and society. The mission of ourschool of engineering is to prepare our students for professional excellence, responsiblecitizenship, and service to society. To meet this mission, we provide students with opportunitiesto work on community projects both locally and globally and have formalized their servicelearning through a course “Engineering Projects for the Community”. This course includesservice and civic learning experiences for each of the engineering disciplines; providesinterdisciplinary projects of the students’ choice; and includes structured reflection as a keycourse component.This paper presents a case study on a global project where the students gained experienceworking for real world clients on problems with real world constraints and insight on howengineers impact and influence the world around them. The project was developed by theEngineers Without Borders (EWB) Student Chapter. The EWB students involved in this projectenrolled in the course to prepare for the non-technical components of the task including ethics,communication, and leadership. The course also addresses the engineering design process toassist students in applying their technical skills on the project.Through the use of study surveys and student reflections, this paper attempts to identify theeffect of community projects on student learning and student perception of their chosen careerpath. As one student reflected, “The engineer must be able to understand much more than the‘engineering’; there is a huge ethical and communal side to engineering.” Another noted, “Thisexperience has a large impact on the team members’ concept of what it means to be anengineer”.

Krishnan, S., & Nilsson, T. L. (2012, June), Engineering Service Learning: Case Study on Preparing Students for the Global Community Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21311

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