Asee peer logo

Impacts of Service on Engineering Students

Download Paper |


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

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.722.1 - 25.722.14



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Kurt Paterson P.E. Michigan Technological University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Kurt Paterson, Associate Professor of civil and environmental engineering, is also Director of Michigan Tech's D80 Center. D80 has the mission to develop contribution-based learning, research, and service opportunities for all students and staff to partner with the poorest 80% of humanity, together creating solutions that matter. As Director of several international programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, Paterson, his colleagues, and his students have conducted numerous community-inspired research and design projects. Paterson is an educational innovator, recently adding courses for first-year students, Great Ideas, and graduate students, Discover Design Delight. At the intersection of these two fields, Paterson leads several national initiatives for learning engineering through service, recently taking the reins for the American Society for Engineering Education’s newest division startup, Community Engagement in Engineering Education. He is PI, or co-PI, on several large projects assessing the impacts of learning through service on students, faculty, and communities around the world.

visit author page


Chris Swan Tufts University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Chris Swan is an Associate Professor of civil and environmental engineering with additional appointments in the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach at Tufts University. He has served as chair of Tufts CEE Department (2002-2007) and has been active in ASEE since 2001, currently serving as the Program Chair for the Community Engagement in Engineering Education constituent committee. Swan’s current research interests in engineering education concerns project-based learning and service-based pedagogy.

visit author page


Kristine Louise Guzak Michigan Technological University

visit author page

Kristine Louise Guzak is a Ph.D. student of environmental engineering at Michigan Technological University. She is the lead graduate student on a larger project assessing the impacts of learning through service on undergraduate students. Her research interests include engineering education with some focuses on international programs.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Impacts of Service on Engineering StudentsThis paper presents preliminary findings of a longitudinal study in which undergraduateengineering students are evaluated to better understand the effects of service onengineering education. Two student clusters were assembled from engineering first-yearand junior year students, with sub-cohorts derived from students engaged in curricular(CS), extracurricular (ES), both (Both), or no (None) community service experiences.Participating students were recruited from four institutions: small private, small public,medium-sized technical, and large public universities. A fifth pool was comprised ofstudents engaged in Engineers Without Borders – USA at more than twenty universitiesacross the nation. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two methodologicalgroups: (1) online survey of 150 questions (n=255), or (2) online survey plus 30 minuteinterview (n=120). Participation is planned for three years, biannually; this paper sharesfindings from the first year, Spring and Fall 2011. The online survey collecteddemographic information along with a self-assessment on several topics: self-efficacy,motivation, satisfaction, retention, engineer identity, attitudes on learning, culturalcompetency, and well-being. The interview followed similar themes, but allowed greaterdepth of understanding students’ perceptions and experiences. Gender demographicanalysis reveals that ES is comprised of 50% males and 50% females, CS is 77% malesand 23% females, Both is 56% males and 44% females, and None is 69% males and 31%females. Service clearly attracts women. While deeper analyses of these cohorts will berevealed within the paper, some initial findings of the interview pool (using 270 codesgenerated from an iterative a priori/emergent coding approach) were necessary toappropriately understand the individuals within the interview pool. As an example, asmall, randomly selected interview subject pool (n=10) depicts some of the studentinsights into one portion of the interview asking students: (1) to recall an influentialengineering experience, (2) to summarize the relevance of the experience to engineering,and (3) why their experience is important to them. A majority of students recallengineering experiences from their childhood as being most influential and think of themas their earliest situation in which they learned about engineering and what they wouldlater understand to be the engineering process. The paper further details earlycomparisons among the four cohorts using the qualitative analysis from all 120 interviewand quantitative analysis of all 255 survey participants.

Paterson, K., & Swan, C., & Guzak, K. L. (2012, June), Impacts of Service on Engineering Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21479

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2012 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015