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International Service as a Means of Improving Retention of Engineering Students

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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

Impacts on Engineering Education Through Collaborative Learning, Project-based, and Service-learning

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Page Count


Page Numbers

25.834.1 - 25.834.14



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Paper Authors


Brett Quentin Tempest University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Brett Quentin Tempest is an Assistant Professor of civil and environmental engineering at University of North Carolina, Charlotte. His primary research area is in construction materials with special emphasis on concretes and incorporation of wastes and combustion residues in high performance structural materials. Tempest advises the International Service Club in the College of Engineering and recently returned from the group's first overseas trip to Peru.

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Sandra Loree Dika University of North Carolina, Charlotte


Miguel A. Pando University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Miguel Pando is Associate Professor, Civil, and Environmental Engineering Department, UNC, Charlotte.

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Samuel T. Lopez University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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International Service as a Means of Improving Retention of Engineering StudentsOne of the most significant challenges facing engineering education is the chronic problem ofinclusion and retention of underrepresented minority (URM) groups. An interesting nuance is theloss of students who are making satisfactory grades at the moment they withdraw. In fact,research from the US Department of Education has indicated that fewer than 10% of studentswho leave engineering are motivated to do so because of low grades. Instead, many of thesestudents have a difficult time connecting the work of introductory engineering classes with local,national and international societal issues. The impact of this discontinuity is especiallypronounced in motivating URM students to depart despite good academic standing.Service learning has been integrated into many non-engineering curricula with success indeveloping skills, promoting social engagement. In engineering settings service learningprovides experiential learning to help students appreciate the non-engineering related aspects toproblem solving and has been identified by many engineering education researchers as importantto developing practical skills in students. It can also be used to illuminate the link betweenengineering and society at moments when students seek such a connection.The authors have started an international service club with activities developing in Peru. Thepaper presents an overview of some of the international service activities currently underwaywhich have resulted in good participation, and exceptionally strong interest by URM students.Students were surveyed as to their desire to integrate service in their careers and ways thatinvolvement in the club has fulfilled these desires. Results of the survey are presented alongwith plans that have been developed by the authors to structure the program for improvedrecruitment and retention of URM engineering students.

Tempest, B. Q., & Dika, S. L., & Pando, M. A., & Lopez, S. T. (2012, June), International Service as a Means of Improving Retention of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21591

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