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Service Learning In Capstone Design Projects

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Design for Community

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1092.1 - 9.1092.7

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Paper Authors

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J. Darrell Gibson

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

Session 2625

Service-Learning in Capstone Design Projects: Emphasizing Reflection Patricia Brackin, J. Darrell Gibson Department of Mechanical Engineering Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Service-learning offers opportunities for students to help their community while demonstrating ABET EC 2000 criteria. This paper gives a brief introduction to service learning concepts and then focuses on methods to increase student reflection


Service learning projects are typically sponsored by a community partner and give students the opportunity to interact with people outside their socio-economic groups and disciplines, and also to include issues other than engineering. Key components of service-learning include reflection and reciprocity. [1] Reflection requires the student to ponder and articulate the service learning experience. Reciprocity requires that students meet actual community needs - not contrived needs -to address desired learning outcomes.

At Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology the senior mechanical engineering capstone design courses have included projects to help the disabled for more than ten years. These projects are initiated by a variety of groups such as local hospitals, schools, physicians, therapists, support groups, and members of the community who have heard of past projects. Past projects have been very diverse and have ranged from the design of a wheelchair accessible power tool bench for high school industrial arts to a modified pediatric crutch.

Attributes of Capstone Service Learning Projects

After supervising capstone design projects with both industry and service learning projects for more than ten years, the authors have recognized that there are some distinct opportunities that service learning projects offer; especially when compared with traditional industrial design projects. [2]

1. Problem statements are not given in engineering terms. In the service-learning projects the problem statements are often ill-defined and rarely specified in engineering terms. For example, one problem statement consisted of, “Dillon needs something to

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Gibson, J. D. (2004, June), Service Learning In Capstone Design Projects Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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