Asee peer logo

Learn And Serve – Design Projects For The Community

Download Paper |


2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Design for Special Services

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1006.1 - 12.1006.7

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Mariappan Jawaharlal California State Polytechnic University-Pomona

visit author page

Dr. Mariappan “Jawa” Jawaharlal is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona). Before joining Cal Poly Pomona, Dr. Jawaharlal founded and developed, Inc., an online supplemental education company focusing on K-12 math. He also served as a faculty at Rowan University, NJ and General Motors Institute (renamed as Kettering University), MI. Dr. Jawaharlal is recognized as an outstanding educator for his innovative and engaging teaching pedagogy.

visit author page


Amir Rezaei California State Polytechnic University-Pomona

visit author page

Amir G Rezaei is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Dr. Rezaei has obtained his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering , his M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in engineering mechanics from Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. He joined the faculty of Cal Poly Pomona in winter of 2006. His research interests include Anisotropic Elasticity, Composite Materials, Vibration, and Stability. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). He is serving as the ASME student advisor at Cal Poly Pomona and as the program chair of the Design in Engineering Education Division (DEED) of ASEE for 2006-2007 academic year.

visit author page


Saeed Monemi California State Polytechnic University-Pomona

visit author page

Dr. Saeed Monemi is currently an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cal Poly Pomona. He is teaching a broad range of Undergraduate and Graduate level courses in electrical and computer engineering. His research areas are: Algorithms and Complex Computations, Energy Management Environments,, Software Engineering and Robotics. Before
that, Dr. Monemi was Senior Associate Research Faculty, and Research Scientist at Vanderbilt University, where he conducted research in the areas of Model Integrated Computing, Diagnostics, and Fault Management Analysis.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Learn and Serve - Design Projects for the Community


Learning can be engaging and meaningful if the joy of discovery and learning context are incorporated into the instructional method. In this highly competitive business and complex social environment, our approach to teaching must be based on sound pedagogy that helps our students to “uncover” the principles instead of being told of them. Research indicates real learning occurs when learners are immersed in realistic situations in which they are forced to perform, get feedback, take action, and given chances to correct or adjust their responses. There are many ways to simulate such situations using approaches such as scenario-based learning1-2 and project-based learning. However, the most effective approach for learning is learn-by-doing real projects for real people.

Real projects that can directly benefit communities we live in offer a unique way to Learn and Serve. Design for community provides a meaningful context to address real problems in complex settings rather than simplified problems in isolation.

This paper describes how design projects for community provides authentic learning experiences for the students and challenges in implementing such projects as well as the benefits of these projects to the community. The projects described include design of devices for people with developmental disabilities as well as products designed for use in developing countries.

Authentic Learning Experience through Design projects for the Community

In general discussions, engineering educators would agree with the concept of authentic learning experiences and tend to think that a modified version of the traditional project based learning approach would do it all. This may very well be true in some cases, but it is incorrect in general. In order to develop a truly authentic learning experience, the theoretical underpinnings between the two approaches must be clearly understood. Traditional instructional strategies typically link curriculum and teaching methods such that an educator can deliver knowledge to as many students possible within a short period of time.

According to NCREL3, this approach assumes that properly managed instruction enables most students to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to continue to learn. Practice and repetition, with frequent tests of recall and recitation, characterize this approach. This approach is the only one that many parents and educators have ever known, and their level of comfort with this model will make it very difficult to supplant.

Thus the predominant, pedagogical model today is based on a teacher-centered, didactic approach to instruction. This is mostly due to the fact that educators, parents, as well as administrators have never encountered a learning experience in which they constructed meaning from the experience. Learn and serve projects, involving local communities, by its nature provide an authentic learning experience4.

Jawaharlal, M., & Rezaei, A., & Monemi, S. (2007, June), Learn And Serve – Design Projects For The Community Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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: © 2007 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