June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.1463.1 - 12.1463.7
The Role of Small Scale International Service Projects in Engineering Education: The Students’ Perspective Abstract: International service projects are increasingly recognized as a way to prepare students for the global marketplace. Project-based service learning is a valuable educational tool, and expands upon a traditional engineering education. Accordingly, increased opportunities for this have been provided to students through various national and university institutions. In the past three years, students from Tufts University have initiated projects in Ecuador, El Salvador and the Tibet Autonomous Region. These projects provide diverse perspectives, from which important lessons can be extracted.
This paper will address lessons learned from student-run international service projects. Challenges and benefits experienced by the students during project formation, planning, and implementation will be considered. Attention will be paid to the viability of student perceptions on roles of students and faculty mentors. It is suggested that these projects are most effective as an educational tool when sufficient responsibility and accountability is placed on the students during all phases of the project. A detailed analysis of past projects is necessary in order to improve the potential benefits of international service projects to students.
Introduction In a traditional engineering education, course work is typically either from a book or isolates a certain stage of a project, or a certain component of a technology. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) requires that an engineering program must give students an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams; an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability; an ability to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context; as well as a knowledge of contemporary issues1. Students traditionally do not experience project based learning, and engineering design until their junior or senior year of study.
International service projects provide the opportunity for students to work together in teams and experience designing for real world constraints early in their education. By having the responsibility of making all decisions related to projects, students learn how real-world engineering problems are approached. Rather than solving isolated engineering problems, students learn how to make crucial assumptions and decisions about each phase of a project. Service learning also gives students a motivation for doing work, as the results are tangible, and can improve peoples' quality of life. In today's global marketplace, an understanding of issues that face the international community in which we exist is important. International service projects aid students in gaining an understanding of global issues that they will face in their lifetime.
In this paper, the Tufts chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) will be used as a case study of how international service projects can enhance a traditional engineering education. This Tufts organization instills responsibility and leadership in students by placing students in charge of
Freeman, S., & Crocker, J., & Swan, C. (2007, June), The Role Of Small Scale International Service Projects In Engineering Education: The Students’ Perspective Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2683
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