Colleges, universities, professional societies contribute to 'service learning'

Involve engineering students in community activities: 'IEEE-USA Today's Engineer'

WASHINGTON (14 June 2006) -- At least 100 colleges and universities incorporate "service learning" into their engineering curricula in an effort to involve students in community activities," according to IEEE President-Elect Leah Jamieson, who is quoted in the June 2006 "IEEE-USA Today's Engineer Online."

In the "Today's Engineer" article, Dr. Jamieson defined "service learning" as "a method of teaching, learning and reflecting that ties community service with academic learning outcomes in the discipline, and is built on the principle of reciprocity." An example of service learning cited in the article is developing data management systems for social service agencies, such as Habitat for Humanity. According to "Today's Engineer Online," additional service learning programs have been undertaken with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) and Engineers for a Sustainable World. Such programs typically include faculty members mentoring students.

In February 2005, the IEEE was a major contributor to a $25,000 United Engineering Foundation grant for EWB-USA's relief effort in Sri Lanka, following the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. IEEE-USA also contributed $5,000 for EWB-USA student recognition awards presented at the organization's international conference in February 2006.

In the article, titled "Wave of the Future," IEEE President-Elect Jamieson noted that most service programs have been undertaken in civil engineering. She singled out service learning as "a huge opportunity for the IEEE and for other professional organizations."

As reported in "Today's Engineer Online," for the current fiscal year, the National Science Foundation provides almost $25 million for Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), co-founded by Dr. Jamieson at Purdue University, and similar service programs. In addition, high-tech companies such as Microsoft, National Instruments and Hewlett-Packard have supported engineering service learning programs by donating equipment and/or software, according to "Today's Engineer Online."

IEEE President-Elect Jamieson, interim dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., was the lead speaker at a National Conference on Service Learning in Engineering, held in Washington on 24-25 May at the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). In February 2005, NAE honored the Purdue EPICS program with the "Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education."


To read the full "Today's Engineer Online" article on engineering service learning by former Associated Press Correspondent Barton Reppert, go to

Other articles in the June issue cover the basics of mentoring, how the knowledge of an engineer becomes obsolete, the inventor of xerography, and an update on intellectual property. Read on at

IEEE-USA advances the public good and promotes the careers and public-policy interests of more than 220,000 engineers, scientists and allied professionals who are U.S. members of the IEEE. IEEE-USA is part of the IEEE, the world's largest technical professional society with 360,000 members in 150 countries.

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