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Faces On Design: A Partnership Among Clients, Students, And Community Volunteers

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Entrepreneurship Education: Innovation, International Cooperation, and Social Entrepreneurship

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.618.1 - 14.618.10



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Paper Authors


Nassif Rayess University of Detroit, Mercy

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Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He received his BS and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Wayne State University and joined the University of Detroit Mercy in 2001. He is a member of the team spearheading the development of the Entrepreneurship program at UDM.

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Darrell Kleinke University of Detroit, Mercy

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Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He earned his BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Wayne State University. He has over 25 years of industrial experience and is a licensed Professional Engineer. He taught as an adjunct faculty at various universities prior to joining the University of Detroit Mercy in 2008.

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

Faces on Design: A Partnership between Clients, Students and Community Volunteers


This article describes a useful framework for bringing social entrepreneurship to engineering students. In the proposed framework, members of a team of engineering students are partnered with a disabled person with a particular need and tasked with finding, modifying or creating an assistive technology that would help fulfill that need. At the other end, that same student team is partnered with one or more volunteers from the skilled trade community who will implement their design and create a functional working prototype. In this partnership, faculty members act as gate keepers, ensuring safety and facilitating the interactions between the students and the other two stakeholders. At the center is a legal document that indemnifies all parties by ensuring that the client understands that the device/technology that s/he receives is modified equipment and must be used as instructed and under their responsibility. Although assistive technology development in the context of the senior design course is a fairly common practice in the US, this article describes the business structure and educational framework that allows for this technology to be developed rapidly, built professionally and brought to the client in a fairly short time. This provides the students with a very rich experience on many levels including interfacing with the disabled community, understanding government regulations and guidelines (i.e. FDA, CPSC) and creating a design that is well documented and easy to manufacture. The authors will use a recent venture as a case study and will share initial feedback from all constituents (client, students, faculty and volunteers) as well as initial assessment of the educational experience. A discussion of future plans is also presented.


Service learning has grown in importance to the extent that it is now on the strategic path of most engineering and technology programs in the US. Along with social entrepreneurship, they are well regarded and supported by scholarly journals. They are also supported financially by foundations and government agencies. This particular activity is supported by a Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network (KEEN) grant from the Kern Family Foundation.

This paper describes the relationships between service learning and social entrepreneurship in the context of engineering education. It then presents the anatomy of this particular venture using the latest models of social entrepreneurship research. The educational and pedagogical aspects are then discussed, followed by two projects that serve as case studies. The experience is then briefly evaluated and preliminary assessment is presented. The paper concludes with a discussion on the future plans.

Service Learning and Social Entrepreneurship

Defined as “a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development”1, service learning is not only beneficial to the overall

Rayess, N., & Kleinke, D. (2009, June), Faces On Design: A Partnership Among Clients, Students, And Community Volunteers Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5257

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