Service in Engineering Education: An Active Review of Outcomes from EWB Projects - Chris Swan (Tufts)


    Service efforts within engineering education has become an emergent opportunity for engineering education. Engineers Without Borders represents one of a number of national programs in which student involvement has been nothing short of explosive. Yet, partly due to the grassroots development of many of these programs, partly due to their rapid rise, there are few findings on the impacts of these programs on engineering education. 

    This panel session of the EWB-USA Northeast Regional Workshop will focus on the expected outcomes from service efforts in engineering education.  Panel participants will actively participate in the session via a survey on expected outcomes.  This session will also explore the impacts of service in engineering education in the United States as reviewed in an NSF-funded study conducted over the last year. Central to this study are the findings from the NSF-sponsored Summit on Measuring the Impacts of Project-Based Service Learning on Engineering Education, held February 19-20, 2009 in Washington DC, as well as a number of panel/special session at engineering education conferences in 2009. Study efforts have leveraged the collective expertise of participants to identify desired outcome metrics, quality assessment methods, and key next steps needed in understanding the impacts of service on engineering education. The Summit findings will form the basis of a final report, Measuring the Impacts of Project-Based Service Learning on Engineering Education, to be disseminated nationally in early 2010.   Participants will be given access to free final report copies upon completion. 

    This session has the potential for many broad, positive impacts. Faculty and students involved in service efforts in engineering education seek guidance on how to better understand how such programs are affecting them, and how to design the best experiences possible. Other stakeholders are also interested in the outcomes, such as university administrators who are eager to better understand the “magic” behind these programs in order to infuse some of it to those that are not imbued with similar excitement and interest. 

Biography - Chris Swan (Tufts University):

    Chris Swan is an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and adjunct associate professor of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University.  He also serves as managing partner of E3 Innovative Materials, LLC; a company focused on the research and development of viable reuse strategies for waste materials.  Dr. Swan has also served as chair of Tufts CEE department (2002-2007), as an officer in the Environmental Engineering division of ASEE (2001-2005), and as one of the inaugural Faculty Fellows of the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.  He also has experience in engineering practice having worked for an engineering consulting firm specializing in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering.  Dr. Swan’s current interests lie in the areas of waste reuse, recycling, geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering, and service in the engineering curriculum – often in synergistic ways. Such synergies naturally progressed to research on engineering education and training utilizing project-based learning and service-learning pedagogies – specifically their potential impacts on student learning and how these impacts may be evaluated and assessed.