Early engineering through service-learning: Adapting a university model to high school

William C. Oakes, Pamela Dexter, Jane Hunter, James C Baygents, Michael Gerard Thompson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Scopus citations


The challenges of this next century require a new generation of engineering talent. In the United States, interest in engineering has remained flat and many groups within remain underrepresented relative to the overall population, specifically women and ethnic minorities. Attracting the next generation of diverse engineers requires a diverse set of pre-college experiences to connect diverse pathways leading to an engineering degree. One exciting approach is the use of service-learning to expose students to design and engineering. Servicelearning has been well established in many disciplines with positive impacts on interest, motivation, student satisfaction, personal success, desire, and retention of students who participated in service-learning projects. Service-learning is pedagogically consistent with literature on the recruitment and retention of women and other underrepresented groups in science and engineering. These benefits have been studied at the higher education level and show promise for pre-college as well. Service-learning connected to engineering also has an enormous potential for capitalizing on the wave of interest in community engagement among teenagers nationally. Connecting service to our community with engineering aligns perfectly with the National Academy's Changing the Conversation. This paper describes the adaptation of a successful university model to high school having been disseminated to more than 50 schools in 10 states. This paper highlights high school programs that have been integrated into the school day and are supported by a large Midwestern university and two large Southwestern universities. Example projects are described as well as the academic structure and teacher training processes. Demographic data shows that the model is attracting more female students and students from groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering. Data also shows that students are becoming more interested in engineering as a result of their experience in the service-learning programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
ISBN (Print)9780878232413
StatePublished - 2012
Event119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - San Antonio, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 10 2012Jun 13 2012

Publication series

NameASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Electronic)2153-5965


Other119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio, TX

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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