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Seeking Relevancy, Building Excellence: Service-learning in the SEECS Program

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Conference

2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Relevance of and Models for Community Engagement in Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count

23

Page Numbers

25.1147.1 - 25.1147.23

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/21904

Download Count

19

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Paper Authors

biography

Karinna M. Vernaza Gannon University

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Karinna Vernaza joined Gannon University in 2003, and she is currently an Associate Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department. She earned her Ph.D. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame. Her B.S. is in Marine Systems Engineering from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Her primary teaching responsibilities are in the solid mechanics and materials areas. She was awarded the 2012 ASEE NCS Outstanding Teacher Award. Vernaza consults for GE Transportation and does research in the area of alternative fuels (biodiesel), engineering education (active learning techniques), and high-strain deformation of materials. She is currently a Co-PI in an NSF S-STEM and ADVANCE-PAID grants. She is actively involved in outreach activities that introduce middle school students to engineering.

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Theresa M. Vitolo Gannon University

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Barry J. Brinkman Gannon University

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Scott Steinbrink Gannon University

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Abstract

Seeking Relevancy, Building Excellence: Service Learning in the SEECS Program The Scholars for Excellence in Engineering and Computer Science (SEECS) programinitiated its first cohort of 20 students in fall 2009. Funded through an NSF S-STEM grant, theinterdisciplinary, multi-year, mixed academic-level offering awarded scholarships to studentsbased on academic merit and financial need. SEECS is an opportunity for students in the majorsof computer science, electrical and computer engineering, environmental engineering,information systems, mechanical engineering, and software engineering at Gannon University,Erie, PA, in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. The goals of the scholarshipprogram are (1) to increase the number of academically talented, but financially disadvantagedstudents in the stated majors, (2) to assist students to be successful in their undergraduateeducation, and (3) to foster professional development for careers or graduate education. Thesegoals are realized through the students’ shared interactions within the SEECS seminar. Students awarded SEECS scholarships are required to attend a seminar where specificdevelopment and learning outcomes are realized in a team-based, project-based approach. Thechallenging and engaging aspect of the SEECS program is this zero-credit seminar. The SEECSseminar is structured around three components: engineering design, professional development,and personal development. While the two development facets are valued, the engineering design component is thepivotal experience connecting and building not only engineering competency but also personalconfidence. Emphasizing the service-learning aspect of the seminar, the design projects benefitregional non-profit organizations. The design activities pair the freshmen cohort with the seniors;the sophomores with the juniors. Through these pairings, the students learn from each otherwhile working on a real-world problem. Hence, the learning becomes relevant and the scholarsexcel as they share the intellectual, problem-solving aspects of design for an organization valuingtheir contribution. At this time, four design projects have been fostered by the SEECS seminar: two fullyimplemented, one in the design and deploy phases, and one in the requirements gathering stage.Each project supported different service organizations, complemented different distributions ofmajors, and required different technical competencies. Although structurally different, all fourprojects incorporate the aims of the SEECS program. The following paper presents the methods used by the grant co-PIs to identify potentialstakeholders, to establish relationships with non-profit agencies, to recognize engineering needs,to define viable student projects, and to lead scholars in design tasks. Applied through the seriesof design projects, the methods enable the co-PIs to have the appropriate communication neededwith the non-profit in the early-stages of project definition on through the final stages ofdeployment. The success of the methods is supported by student evaluations of their growth inunderstanding design and in appreciating their role in society. Finally, the potential for using theSEECS design approach as a model for a project-based, honors-option for academically-talentedstudents in SEECS majors is discussed.

Vernaza, K. M., & Vitolo, T. M., & Brinkman, B. J., & Steinbrink, S. (2012, June), Seeking Relevancy, Building Excellence: Service-learning in the SEECS Program Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/21904

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