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Project Management Applications For Service Learning In Engineering

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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

12.1202.1 - 12.1202.19



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Paper Authors


Frank Giannelli Lafayette College

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FRANK R. GIANNELLI graduated from Lafayette College in Easton, PA in May 2007. He received his B.A. in Engineering with a minor in Economics and Business. He is interested in project management and plans to pursue a career in engineering management.

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Sharon Jones Lafayette College

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SHARON A. JONES is an Associate Professor at Lafayette College in the BA Engineering Program. Her research includes environmental and infrastructure policy. Dr. Jones received a BS Civil Engineering from Columbia University, and a PhD Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University. She is a licensed professional engineer in several states.

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


Abstract In 2003 Lafayette College established its own chapter of Engineers without Borders (EWB-LC) with the goal of establishing sustainable infrastructures in the Yoro region of Honduras using multidisciplinary student teams. EWB has seen much success over the past three years. Work was completed in the Lagunitas village, work is being completed in La Fortuna, and work is beginning in a third village, El Convento. EWB-LC has won several grants including a P3 grant from the EPA for sustainability research. Despite these successes, EWB faces several challenges that are common amongst student-led service groups particularly rotating members, uncertain budgets, and a lack of communication. While there are certainly other issues with running a student group, these are by far the most prominent issues. Using EWB-LC as a case study, we applied project management concepts to develop a system to improve the performance of student-led, multidisciplinary, service-learning organization. We used surveys to measure how students and leaders perceive the efficiency of the club, and we used project management efficiency ratios to determine how effective the club is pre and post use of the project management system. The results should be useful to other EWB-USA student chapters and similar organizations at other colleges.

Project Objective In this project, we apply Oberlender’s1 concepts of project management to develop a framework that addresses the organizational challenges faced by undergraduate student-led service-learning groups. We evaluate the framework using the Engineers without Borders, Lafayette College (EWB-LC) student chapter as a case study. The results may be applied to similar service- learning organizations across a variety of undergraduate college settings.

Background “Service-learning means a method under which students learn and develop a thoughtfully organized service that is conducted in and meets the needs of a community and is coordinated with an institution of higher learning and with the community; helps foster civic responsibility; is integrated into and embraces the academic curriculum of the students enrolled; and includes structured time for the students to reflect on the service experience.”2

According to studies done at the Higher Education Research Institute of the University of California, Los Angeles3, certain things must be done to ensure that a service-learning experience is effective. The first is that students must receive sufficient training through course material before engaging in the service. The second is that instructors must engage students in conversation about their service. The last is that students must reflect on their service through a medium such as a paper or journal. The study shows that when this was done, students who participated in service-learning classes had a better sense of civic responsibility then their peers in non service-learning classes. Students also tended to improve their writing skills and their critical thinking skills.

Giannelli, F., & Jones, S. (2007, June), Project Management Applications For Service Learning In Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1522

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