Engineers have an obligation to use their technical expertise to make the world a better place. One of the ways they do this is by giving back to their communities. Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has partnered with local not-for-profit community groups to teach students how engineers can have positive impacts on their communities and reinforce the values that engineers serve the world.
Darlene Spracklin-Reid is a senior instructional designer with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at Memorial and is thrilled with the new service learning initiative for co-op students.
“Service learning has huge benefits for the local community and our students,” said Ms. Spracklin-Reid. “Our students are serving to not-for-profit community groups who can benefit from their excellent technical skills. Our students have an opportunity to apply the skills they learn in school to real situations for community groups in need.”
Memorial’s undergraduate engineering program is a co-operative education program. In addition to successfully completing eight academic study terms, students must successfully complete at least four work terms to graduate. A community-based experiential semester can offer students another opportunity in which they can learn and grow into professional engineers.
The service learning experiential terms were introduced during the Fall 2016 semester. Seven students were placed with four community groups.
“We had two students at Deborah’s Garden, a community garden in Pouch Cove where the students designed a greenhouse; two students at the St. John’s Northwest Rotary Club where they designed a reliable power source for a school in Zimbabwe; one student at O’Donel High School in Mount Pearl who supported staff, students and teachers to enhance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education; and two students at Manuels River Hibernia Interpretation Centre where they designed a bridge to improve the trail connectivity,” explained Ms. Spracklin-Reid.
Erik O’Brien is a third-year ocean and naval architectural engineering student who completed a service learning semester at the Manuels River Interpretation Centre.
“It was rewarding to be a part of a project that helps provide such meaningful help to the community,” said Mr. O’Brien. “Quite often when we think of engineering, we think of its industrial applications so it was very nice to also see first hand how engineering benefits the needs of a non-profit organization as well as the community of Conception Bay South.”
“Service learning semesters are becoming more popular with our students and community groups,” said Ms. Spracklin-Reid. “This semester, we have 13 students placed at 12 schools, two students at Froude Avenue Community Centre, one with Skills Canada, one with Together by Design, one with the Nordic Ski Club, two with the Manuels River Interpretation Centre and one with Stella's Circle, for a total of 19 students.”