June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.787.1 - 14.787.7
International Experience and Service in Developing Graduate Student Soft Skills
Introduction This paper describes the new graduate student international experiential learning course developed at the University of Alabama College of Engineering (UA-COE) at and the tools used to evaluate learning outcomes. The course was funded as part of a 2008 National Science Foundation Graduate-K12 (NSF G-K12) grant for five years, after which time it is slated for institutionalization as an elective within the college graduate curriculum. The goals of the program are the development of an understanding through experience of engineering as a rapidly globalizing profession, the challenges facing engineers in a developing country, the development of professional “soft skill” learning outcomes not easily taught in traditional classrooms and to get first-hand experience in what engineering is ultimately about: building things that make people’s lives better. Components of the program include service learning project development, management and installation and the development of leadership, teaming and communication skills set within a developing country - Peru. The service learning component was the installation of 18 solar panels in three remote Peruvian Amazon villages. The service part of the graduate course, built upon previously established UA-Peru connections, involved the conception, planning and installation of a project in remote Amazonian villages. Students live and work with villagers on installations in accordance with the Engineers Without BordersTM model. Other components involved the student generated planning and participation in a teaming exercise and deconstruction study of the ancient engineering marvel Macchu Picchu. This involved a three day hike from 9000 ft. to around 15,100 ft in the Peruvian Andes.Internal and external evaluations of student learning were performed using Likert Scale and open answer questionnaires. Assessing the experience in a post-trip survey, students rated the development of teaming, communications, and experiential learning skills as particular strengths of the program.
Background The International Engineering Service Learning Program at The University of Alabama was established to incorporate these opportunities for growth into the student learning experience to prepare students for the challenges of the modern engineering profession. It does this by preparing students to serve as effective, engaged, and ethical professionals by promoting and supporting student engagement in meaningful service for academic credit. The three hour elective General Engineering Studies (GES) course is offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, with the graduate students assuming more of the responsibility and leadership roles on planning and projects.
International Collaborators The engineering service experience in Peru was structured within the Engineers Without Borders™ model. This program integrates interdisciplinary engineering service learning with community partners, practitioner oversight, and faculty mentoring. Strong
Johnson, P., & Johnson, P., & Todd, B., & Barth, J., & Aruwajoye, B., & Beatty, H., & Gibson, K., & Dunlap, S. (2009, June), International Experience And Service In Developing Graduate Student Soft Skills Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5375
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