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Strategies For Integrating Service Learning Into The Engineering Core At The University Of Massachusetts Lowell And The Massachusetts Institute Of Technology

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Curricula of the Past, Present, and Future

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1150.1 - 11.1150.18



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Paper Authors


Amy Banzaert Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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AMY BANZAERT is a graduate student in MIT's mechanical engineering department, studying the use of service learning in engineering education, and alternative forms of charcoal made from agricultural waste for use in developing countries. Previously, she worked for three years as MIT's service learning coordinator, developing the program from its early beginnings. She has also worked as a design and manufacturing engineer for Texas Instruments.

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John Duffy University of Massachusetts-Lowell

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JOHN J. DUFFY is a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department, the Coordinator for the Solar Engineering Graduate Program, and the Director of the Center for Sustainable Energy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He has written over 70 papers on solar engineering, environmental analysis, and education. He has integrated service-learning into nine engineering courses at the undergraduate and graduate level with local and international projects and is the principal investigator on an NSF grant to integrate service-learning into the entire curriculum of the college of engineering at UML. He also coordinates the Village Empowerment project which has designed and installed over 60 systems for communication, lighting, vaccine refrigeration, and water supply and purification in remote areas of the Peruvian Andes.

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David Wallace Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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DAVID R. WALLACE is the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT and is the co-director of the MIT Computer-aided Design Laboratory. He works actively to expand service learning work in engineering at MIT. Having a background in both industrial design and mechanical engineering, he teaches graduate and undergraduate product design courses, including 2.009 Product Engineering Processes, 2.744 Product Design, and 2.670 Mechanical Engineering Tools. His research focuses on using computation to elucidate alternatives and tradeoffs in integrated, concurrent product development involving the collaboration of many organizations and experts throughout the world.

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

Strategies for Integrating Service-Learning into the Engineering Core at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Abstract While the pedagogy of Service-Learning (S-L) has been applied beneficially in a variety of disciplines, only recently have engineering departments begun to adopt the practice of integrating academically-relevant community service projects into classes and, in doing so, it is most common to offer service-oriented projects in elective classes. However, the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have independently begun to develop S-L programs in engineering fields that work specifically to use the pedagogy in the core curriculum of the discipline. While the two universities and educational programs are distinct, the approach to S-L has been reasonably similar, and faculty and staff from each school have used common tools and methods to assess certain aspects of the integration from student and faculty perspectives. From surveys used at both of the schools (almost 760 pre-surveys and 680 post-surveys administered in the 04-05 academic year), a key finding was that student opinion changed significantly regarding the relationship between engineering and societal problems; students developed the belief that engineers should apply their skills to solve social problems. Additionally, both institutions surveyed the engineering faculty about their attitudes toward S-L and found the majority of faculty showed considerable interest in the concept. Overall, these findings show promise for integrating S-L into core engineering curriculums.

Introduction Service-Learning (S-L) has a rich history in education, providing students and the communities they serve with significant benefitsi,ii,iii. Service-Learning is the integration of academic subject matter with service to the community in credit-bearing courses, with key elements including reciprocity, reflection, coaching, and community voice in projectsiv. Reflective activities help students process their experience and gain insight into the service they perform, the concepts that they are reinforcing, and the connection between the twov,vi,vii. When S-L is used effectively in an academic class, students typically benefit in a number of important ways, including motivation for learning, teamwork, communication, synthesis of multiple technical concepts, understanding of engineering ethical responsibilities, and civic engagementi,ii,iii.

As shown in Table 1, S-L can help educators to fulfill ABET Criterion 3 standardsviii,ix. Table 1: Relationship between ABET Criterion 3 and S-L Pedagogy Criterion 3 standards How S-L can meet these (a) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, Well-chosen S-L projects provide students science, and engineering with the opportunity to apply these knowledge sets directly to real, potentially ambiguous problems. (b) an ability to design and conduct experiments, S-L projects can fit this criterion exactly; for as well as to analyze and interpret data example, students might collect and then analyze data for an agency interested in local groundwater contamination or the experimentation may be part of developing a technical solution to a problem. (c) an ability to design a system, component, or As students working on S-L projects involve

Banzaert, A., & Duffy, J., & Wallace, D. (2006, June), Strategies For Integrating Service Learning Into The Engineering Core At The University Of Massachusetts Lowell And The Massachusetts Institute Of Technology Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--561

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