(The UW-Stout chapter of Engineers Without Borders can be found here)
This project explores how engineering and technology students experience service learning during their undergraduate programs. One example of service learning is Engineers Without Borders (EWB) USA, which seeks to find practical solutions to community concerns, such as clean water or sustainable sewage systems. At UW-Stout, a newly created EWB chapter is working in Nicaragua to develop clean water systems, while understanding the needs and realities of life for both the citizens of the community and the volunteers. The project will unfold over four years and includes both engineering and social science students in the work. This project investigates the success of such community-based service learning projects. Many universities and colleges offer such experiences to their students and believe they are contributing a valuable service to developing communities. However, service learning projects are often compromised because students graduate, and/or faculty leaders move to other institutions, and community ties are lost. The project seeks to find best practices for university/college-based service learning for all stakeholders in these enterprises. This project is a collaboration between the professional society, Engineers Without Borders USA and University of Wisconsin-Stout researchers, teachers, and students. Student attitudes, beliefs, and goals about community involvement are explored in a cross-institutional way: In addition to studying the UW-Stout EWB chapter, the project looks at data collected by Engineers Without Borders USA, and examines trends and practices throughout chapter projects.