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Undergraduate Curriculum Reform In Civil Engineering By Integrating Service Learning Projects

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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

A Serving Profession: Service Learning in Civil Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1358.1 - 11.1358.9



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Paper Authors


Nathan Gartner University of Massachusetts-Lowell

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NATHAN H. GARTNER, ScD: Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Head, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. . Areas of teaching/research interest include intelligent transportation systems, engineering systems analysis, optimization and simulation methods.

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John TIng University of Massachusetts-Lowell

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JOHN M. TING, ScD, PE: Dean of Engineering, University of Massachusetts Lowell. Educational interests include service-learning, issues in recruiting and retention of diverse students into engineering, science and math fields, and K-12 math/science education. Research interests in geotechnical engineering include integral bridge design, particulate modeling, lateral pile behavior, and frozen soil behavior.

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Oguz Gunes University of Massachusetts-Lowell

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OGUZ GUNES, PhD: Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, MA, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering since 2004. His educational and research interests include use of advanced materials and methods in structural design, condition assessment, rehabilitation and retrofitting.

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Xiaoqi Zhang University of Massachusetts-Lowell

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

Undergraduate Curriculum Reform in Civil Engineering by Integrating Service-Learning Projects


At the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML), the goal in the Francis College of Engineering (CoE) is to integrate service-learning into a broad array of courses so that students will be exposed to service-learning every semester in the core curriculum in every program in the entire CoE, an initiative supported by NSF through the Department Level Reform Program. This paper presents the strategy in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE) of identifying and implementing S-L projects as a first step towards undergraduate curriculum reform.

Initially, three service-learning projects of various content, workload, and community partnering were identified and implemented in two core and one elective undergraduate courses in CEE in 2005. Over 80 undergraduate students ranging from freshmen to seniors participated in these community-based projects: (1) Davidson Street Parking Lot Redesign for the City of Lowell; (2) Intersection Analysis – Traffic Signal Control for the City of Lowell; and (3) Preliminary Building Structural Evaluation for the Architectural Heritage Foundation (AHF) In Lowell, MA.

Service-learning was found to be an effective approach to help meet several of the well-known ABET EC2000 educational outcomes. At the completion of these service-learning projects, the students not only accomplished the specific community objectives but also important technical objectives for the courses. Quantitative deliverables were presented to the community partners. Positive feedback from the students was received.


Service learning (S-L) provides 1) learning for the student and 2) service to the community. The S-L approach motivates students to work harder, be more curious, connect learning to personal experience, and demonstrate deeper understanding of subject matter [1].

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has a relatively new set of criteria for engineering programs. In addition to achieving the more traditional technical objectives, these criteria require that graduates demonstrate: • an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams • an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility • the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context • a knowledge of contemporary issues [2].

Service-learning team projects have the potential to ensure students learn and demonstrate these qualities in addition to the ability of applying engineering to the design of systems and experiments. However, how to fit more material into an already packed curriculum is a continuing challenge to engineering educators and students. Service-learning offers a way to

Gartner, N., & TIng, J., & Gunes, O., & Zhang, X. (2006, June), Undergraduate Curriculum Reform In Civil Engineering By Integrating Service Learning Projects Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--345

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