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Service Learning In The Freshman Engineering Course

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Three P's in Introduction to Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1010.1 - 8.1010.5



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Paper Authors

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Mary Clare Robins

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Elizabeth Parry

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Laura Bottomley

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

Session 3453

Service Learning in the Freshman Engineering Course

Laura J. Bottomley, Mary Clare Robbins, Elizabeth Parry North Carolina State University


The College of Engineering at NC State University has had an NSF-sponsored GK-12 project for the past four years that sent engineering students in to K-8 classrooms as science and/or math resources for teachers. Using the same model, in fall 2002, the Introduction to Engineering course that is required of all freshmen offered a design project that included service learning as an option. The “Outreach Project” required students, in teams of four, to propose and design a project that they could take to a K-8 classroom that would teach about engineering, math or science. The projects were required to align with the NC Standard Course of Study and national science and technology standards. Projects could be interactive or passive (e.g. a hallway display) and were required to meet strict acceptability guidelines before the teams were matched with a particular K-12 classroom. This paper describes the lessons learned as fifteen teams participated in this pilot project.


In the fall of 2002, the College of Engineering at NC State introduced a new semester design project into the Introduction to Engineering class required of all freshmen. The Introduction to Engineering class is taught in sections of just less than fifty students, for a total of about twenty- three class sections each fall. Every student is required to complete a team design project that they may choose from a menu of available options, although the options change from year to year. The teams of four students work outside of class to complete the project, give an in-class oral presentation, complete a comprehensive final report paper, and participate in a poster session at Freshman Design Day at the end of the semester. Most of the projects allow the students to enter a competition with their project, which is also held on Freshman Design Day.

In the Fall of 2002, students were allowed to choose from: building a trebuchet that could hit two different target distances over a five foot wall, building a device to transport three different balls from one side of a table to the other in the least amount of time, building a water rocket that would stay aloft the longest, inventing a device to measure the power output of a water-bath nuclear reactor, or writing a simple compiler for a computer. The bridge project that had been used previously was discontinued, since many of the students had experienced building bridges in high school.

In addition to the above offerings, an additional project was introduced this fall, the outreach project. The goals of this new project were to:

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright (c) 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Robins, M. C., & Parry, E., & Bottomley, L. (2003, June), Service Learning In The Freshman Engineering Course Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12560

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