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Integrating Service Learning Into Introduction To Mechanical Engineering

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.265.1 - 1.265.9



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Paper Authors

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Leevones Dubose

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Jean Newman

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Cecil Ramage

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Burke Johnson

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Brenda Litchfield

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Edmund Tsang

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

Session 3253

Integrating Service Learning into Introduction to Mechanical Engineering

Edmund Tsang, Cecil Ramage, Burke Johnson, Brenda Litchfield, Jean Newman, Leevones Dubose University of South Alabama/Mobile County Public School System


Service learning is a method under which students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized activities that are conducted in and meet the needs of a community. Service learning is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of a freshman Introduction to Mechanical Engineering course by providing the context of teaching and learning design. The emphasis is on experiential learning, and service is a by-product of the learning experience. At the University of South Alabama, Service Learning is implemented by a partnership between the SECME (Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering) program of the Mobile County Public School System in Mobile, Alabama and the Mechanical Engineering Department. First-year mechanical engineering students are formed into design teams, and each team is paired with two middle-school teachers serving as customers for the design projects. The design teams design, produce and test an instructional module and manipulate(s) that promote a thematic approach to mathematics and science instruction and hands-on learning in middle-school classrooms. Course content and implementation plan are described in the paper, and results of student and teacher assessment will be presented at the conference.


The faculty of the Mechanical Engineering (ME) Department at the University of South Alabama (USA) began, in Fall 1993, an evaluation of the undergraduate program to meet the challenge of engineering education for the 21st Century. Restructuring of the mechanical engineering curriculum at USA is also prompted by the changing ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) requirements for design. Under the current criteria, design is defined as "an experience that must grow with the student's development," and "the design experience is developed and integrated throughout the curriculum"1.

A new curriculum, which provides greater flexibility to upper division students to meet their diverse interests and which enhances the design experience for lower division students, was implemented in Fall, 1995 as a result of that effort. A new, four-credit hour "Introduction to Mechanical Engineering" replaced a one-credit hour course in the old curriculum so substantial design and curriculum integration can be implemented; this course was taught for the first time in Winter Quarter, 1996. Other lower-division curriculum ehancements include three new courses: (a) a one-credit hour, sophomore-level laboratory course integrating materials, manufacturing and design was implemented for the first time in Fall Quarter, 1995; (b) a two-credit hour, sophomore-level course employing writing to explore the social impacts of technology and

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Dubose, L., & Newman, J., & Ramage, C., & Johnson, B., & Litchfield, B., & Tsang, E. (1996, June), Integrating Service Learning Into Introduction To Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6125

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