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Service Learning Oriented Pre Engineering Programs And Their Impact On Non Traditional Engineering Students

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Gender & Minority Issues in K-12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1073.1 - 13.1073.14



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Paper Authors

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Adam Christensen Georgia Institute of Technology

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Willard Nott American Society of Mechanical Engineers

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Douglas Edwards Westlake High School

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Leann Yoder Jets, Inc.

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Christina Ho Engineers Without Borders

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Shannon Flanagan Engineers Without Borders

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Stephanie Hurd JETS, Inc.

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Marion Usselman Georgia Institute of Technology

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Donna Llewellyn Georgia Institute of Technology

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Jeffrey Rosen Georgia Institute of Technology

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Cathy Leslie Engineers Without Borders

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Samuel Graham Georgia Institute of Technology

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



This paper describes and analyzes a new program implemented by Engineers Without Borders- USA (EWB), JETS, Westlake High School (Atlanta, GA), and the Georgia Institute of Technology that introduces pre-college students to the field of engineering through the use of EWB-focused service learning engineering activities. This initiative differs from other high school engineering programs that emphasize competitions in that it highlights important engineering design concepts by rooting the students’ motivation in the desire to help those in need. This emphasis on engineering-themed service projects allows for real-world reinforcement of sustainable engineering practices and promotes the education of ethically responsible and internationally aware students. We postulate that this move away from competition-based motivations and towards community service will be particularly appealing to non-traditional engineering students such as minorities and women.

This paper will examine the case study of EWB-Westlake High School, the first ever high school EWB chapter, which was chartered in the Fall of 2006, and conducted a work trip to Tanzania in July, 2007. The program assessment surveys address which specific activities were effective and which need future refinement, and explore the impact that an engineering service learning program can have on the future goals of the students involved. In addition, two new initiatives will be highlighted; a new national initiative that promotes engineering-focused service learning in high schools, and a local initiative focused on bringing service learning themes into pre- engineering curricula throughout the state of Georgia. This paper will include an alignment of program activities with state and national education standards, and should provide other high schools with the tools to initiate their own programs.


The past decades have seen significant growth in the areas of environmentally conscious products, renewable energy sources, and large scale recycling programs within all branches of engineering. These programs have been initiated because of the public’s awareness of environmental and social problems throughout the world. Indeed, the public’s awareness must now be considered when designing new products so profits will not suffer due to the negative perception of irresponsible manufacturing and implementation 1, 2. This worldwide movement towards total product awareness must be supported by a shift in how traditional engineering topics are taught, idealized, and approached both within engineering departments and the pre- college (high school, middle school) arena. Without changes to the educational system there is potential for accelerated global environmental impact (i.e. global warming), irresponsible globalization (i.e. exploitation of vulnerable populations), and a shortage of informed product developers among members of the global economy3-6. To address these ill-effects many university level engineering departments, like those at Purdue, Virginia Tech, and Tufts, are building graduate programs centered on engineering education7-9. These programs exist in order

Christensen, A., & Nott, W., & Edwards, D., & Yoder, L., & Ho, C., & Flanagan, S., & Hurd, S., & Usselman, M., & Llewellyn, D., & Rosen, J., & Leslie, C., & Graham, S. (2008, June), Service Learning Oriented Pre Engineering Programs And Their Impact On Non Traditional Engineering Students Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3300

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015