June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.1053.1 - 14.1053.13
Service-learning and Sustainability: Striving for a Better Future
Jennifer Christensen and Lale Yurttas
Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M
The Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering has a vested interest in the development of service learning in order to bring the real-world issues of today’s modern society into the classroom, to reinforce engineering principles, and to emphasize engineers’ ultimate responsibility in the development of future technologies. The department has various goals that relate to the National Science Foundation (NSF) engineering education project grants. These particular goals include increasing retention rates of engineering students, reinforcing societal responsibilities, building networking skills through teamwork and community relations, and creating a general excitement for engineering. Service learning has been the staple methodology of reaching these goals, as projects have been implemented in the introductory material and energy balances courses from the fall of 2006.
The service learning projects assigned to the introductory classes have focused on various issues that are prevalent in today’s world, mainly the application of sustainability. In the first iterations of the service learning implementation, Habitat for Humanity, the project partner, challenged students to design an affordable green home. Sustainability and green engineering were the underlying themes of this project Emphasis was placed on researching and proposing viable alternative energy sources, techniques for energy and water conservation, and architectural considerations to increase the overall efficiency of the home.
End-of semester student surveys indicated that the students desired a more refined project to help focus their efforts in a semester’s time. One of the energy saving proposals of the Habitat for Humanity project was the use of compact fluorescence light bulbs (CFLs) as alternatives to incandescent light bulbs. The lack of public awareness with regards to environmental impacts due to improper CFL disposal, the lack of a proper recycling program in our local community, and the need for a more focused project resulted in a partnership with the City of College Station on a new service learning project.
Consequently, during the fall of 2008, the introductory class was assigned a project to investigate the environmental impacts of CFLs and incandescent light bulbs through life cycle assessment analyses. Adapting the project to past classes’ suggestions, the light bulb analysis project had a narrower, more focused scope; however, the project still met all the objectives and goals espoused above. The project provided opportunities to practice course material on a real-life problem, introduced students to environmental sustainability and project management, and provided opportunities to practice oral and written communication, as well as client relationships. This paper focuses on the learnings from the first iterations of service learning implementation and the incorporation of those learnings into the second iteration, as well as the continued effort to promote the concepts and ideas of sustainability at the most influential stage of a student’s academic career.
Christensen, J., & Yurttas, L. (2009, June), Service Learning And Sustainability: Striving For A Better Future Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5223
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