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Interdisciplinary International Senior Design: How Service Learning Projects In Developing Countries Support Abet Accreditation

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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

Service-Learning in Developing Communities

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.944.1 - 12.944.35



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Paper Authors


Linda Phillips Michigan Technological University

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Linda Phillips, P.E. is Lecturer of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Michigan Technological University and Director of the International Senior Design program that allows undergraduates to combine the engineering capstone design course with field construction in a developing country. Ms. Phillips brings over 20 years of project and company management experience to her professional practice-type classes.

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Ann Brady Michigan Technological University

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Ann Brady is an Assistant Professor and directs the Scientific and Technical Communication program at Michigan Technological University. Her research interests include interdisciplinary theory and practice as well as the intersections of rhetorical theory and communication in the workplace.

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Karina Jousma Michigan Technological University

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Karina Jousma is an undergraduate student earning a Bachelor of Science in Scientific and Technical Communication at Michigan Technological University. Her concentrations include writing and engineering. She joined Civil and Environmental Engineering International Senior Design this summer.

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

Interdisciplinary International Senior Design: How Service Learning Projects in Developing Countries Support ABET Accreditation


Responding to shifts in society and industry toward a globalized economy, engineering schools are beginning to address the realities of engineering and design in developing communities. A globalized economy is defined here as one of international marketplaces and hybridized companies that draw on a range of cultural and disciplinary perspectives. To prepare students for this emerging workplace, engineering education must incorporate global, environmental, economic and societal issues as well as prepare students to work across cultures and disciplines.

This paper reports the work of International Senior Design (ISD), developed at Michigan Technological University. ISD introduces environmental and civil engineering students to both cross-cultural and interdisciplinary work within a capstone design project. Partnering with classes in the Humanities (HU), ISD classes emulate the work of design/build firms in industry to provide students a service-learning design experience situated in the developing world so they can explore the technical, economical and social implications of engineering design and construction.

More specifically, this paper reports the basic elements of ISD. We offer them as a model for working across disciplinary, cultural, and international boundaries in a business setting to attain Criterion 3 of the U.S. Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET 2006 Engineering Criteria). A survey of student work shows how each ABET Criterion 3 requirement is met for various majors throughout the design experience.

Key Concepts

We begin with definitions of four concepts that are central to the ISD mission: ABET criteria, service learning, cross-cultural learning, and interdisciplinarity.

ABET Criteria: ABET, Inc. is the independent accrediting body for U.S. University engineering programs. Each accredited program must demonstrate conformance to certain criteria. In the case of this paper, ABET 2006 Engineering Criterion 3 will be used.

Service Learning: We define service learning as experiential education in which students participate in projects designed to serve the needs and interests of local communities.

Cross-cultural Learning: We understand cross-cultural learning to be an experiential process of deepening respect for people of different cultures and increasing sensitivity to their local practices.


Phillips, L., & Brady, A., & Jousma, K. (2007, June), Interdisciplinary International Senior Design: How Service Learning Projects In Developing Countries Support Abet Accreditation Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2389

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