The Community-Based Building Engineering Projects are based around the student groups developing solutions for real-world problems identified by civil society organisations.
These projects are framed by a research orientation, commitments to civic engagement, building university-community and city-university partnerships, and partnerships with other official agencies.
Partners include Ability West, Cope Galway, Enable Ireland, Engineers Ireland, Galway City & County Councils, Galway Town Hall Theatre, GSPCA, NUI Galway Buildings & Estates Office, Office of Public Works, Saint Vincent De Paul, Scouting Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Youth Work Ireland, a number of schools, GAA, athletic clubs and many more.
Brief outline on community-based learning/research activity
Students complete a mini-project in groups of two or three. Students engage with a community partner and research one particular aspect of the building process that relates directly to a real need in the community. Several groups can work on a single community-based project, with each group researching a different aspect of the building process for that project.
This is written up in the form of a professional report to a client, or as information for inclusion in a technical encyclopaedia, or as an article for communicating with the engineering community at large. At the end of the project, each member of the group makes a short oral presentation of the findings from their project.
If appropriate, students in subsequent years can further develop and advance the work completed by their colleagues.
Student learning outcomes
The general learning objectives for the projects are:
• Develop engineering skills through a self-directed project.
• Develop a sense of commitment to local communities by making a contribution of time and expertise to an individual or community group.
• Learn how engineers in-career make contributions to their communities.
• Apply knowledge or skills learned in this module (and others) to a real-world context.
• Produce a technical engineering report.
• Deliver a high quality oral presentation on a particular subject.
Furthermore, students also choose three additional specific learning objectives at the start of the project.
The projects allow the students to achieve all of the programme outcomes specified for an accredited engineering degree. Furthermore, students recognise the long-term value of engaging with community partners, understanding their future role in the community as engineers, reinforcing the idea that their work can respond directly to real needs in the community.
Community-Based Building Engineering Projects facilitate community users providing real learning problems for students, and community partners can benefit from the results. Evidence collected from the projects shows that, by creating Service Learning, the students’ energy in learning can have a positive impact on the community. Their energy and enthusiasm can be better utilised by setting assignments as real community-based projects. The students get a sense of pride and satisfaction out of the knowledge that their work may be helping communities. The projects can increase the students’ sense of ownership of their learning.
School of Engineering, NUI Galway
Further Details & Assessment:
Further Details and Assessment: Marks are allocated for the technical context and presentation of a written report and oral presentation. Marks are also allocated for the level of engagement with the student’s community partner and for producing a report or outcome that relates directly to a real need in the community. The students must each complete a self-assessment marking sheet at the end of the project, which is marked by a grader (a teaching assistant or lecturer). The criteria in the self-assessment sheet relate to the learning outcomes.
Dr. Magdalena Hajdukiewicz
Dr. Jamie Goggins