Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering - NUIG Engineering in Society

Contact: Dimitrios Zeulogis and Professor Abhay Pandit at NUIG

Service learning is similar in some ways to volunteering, but its purpose is unique. Like volunteering, it requires a commitment of time and energy for the benefit of local communities and individuals. What makes service learning unique is that it is a particular type of experiential learning where students apply academic knowledge and skills they have gained to address genuine community needs while students attain academic credit for their learning. During this experience, students learn through active and organised service by applying concepts presented in their general academic curriculum and reflect on the experience throughout the process to enhance learning. Both students and the community benefit from the experience.

Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering offer ‘Engineering in Society’ as a mandatory third year module which introduces students to the concept and purpose of service learning. Students are made aware of local community needs and from this awareness chose a site to which they can contribute in a meaningful manner 20 hours of service though an engineering lens. In the recent years the students have worked with Enable Ireland, local retirement communities, special needs schools, refugee communities identifying their specific needs and have designed tools and devices that assist them in their daily living. Students reflect via a journal and will submit reports on the experience. After the service placement, students create a poster on engineering designs created, which will later be exhibited in a public venue, highlighting the needs of the group and the outcomes of the service learning experience. Students are able to become members of ‘Engineers without Borders’, which acts as a network for students and professionals who wish to help establish and take part in projects of appropriate technology.

The aim of this module is to:

  • develop engineering skills through self-directed projects.
  • develop a sense of commitment to local communities by making a contribution of time and expertise to an individual or community group.
  • reflect on the experience and share this information with the university community.
  • learn how engineers in-career make contributions to their communities.
  • meet and interact with people from different backgrounds in a role of service.

Duncan Betts former 3rd year Biomedical Engineer, “After two years of studying engineering, which involved hellish amounts of maths and other analysis subjects, you really fool yourself into thinking that you’ve got everything is in your stride. ‘Engineering in Society’ tested a completely different skill set to what we had studied. It had two cruxes, the first was being able to approach someone who may have a disability, just suffered an injury or was disadvantaged (within your perception) and ask if they felt you could improve they’re quality of life through some sort of device or project. The other was being creative about doing this, a skill which is immeasurable hard, for every twenty ideas you’re lucky if one is worthwhile pursuing, I probably got through a small rainforest with the amount of sketches which I binned.

Finally at the end of it all the entire years work was presented with 20 odd projects on display, which gave a good opportunity to see what the other people in the class had created, the people they had chosen to work with and benefit, and how they had chosen to solve the problems they had come across.


Discipline: Engineering
Institution: National University of Ireland, Galway
Activity: Service Learning/Community Based Learning

Additional Information

Academic Discipline: Mechanical & Biomedical Engineering
Module Title: Engineering in Society, Ethics and Community Outreach
Typical number of students: 70
Year(s) of Programme: 3rd Year
Credits (ECTs): 6
Mandatory: Yes
Assessment method:  
First established: 2003/2004
Typical number of hours: Lectures 18 hours, Tutorials 8 hours, 16 hours service.
Learning outcomes:  
Case study website/link:  
Community Partners: Students take responsibility in initiating community partnership


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