The importance of community service learning in engineering
Community service learning (CSL) is gradually shaping up the way of applying the design tools and techniques which students learn during their undergraduate courses in Engineering in Mauritius. A case study was carried out to evaluate the extent to which CSL could be applied in the field assignments so as to help students better understand the practical and social aspects of a problem. The course BEng(Hons) Civil Engineering is of 4 years duration, with 3½ years being full time courses at the University of Mauritius and the remaining half year being spent as industrial training in either a consultancy or a contracting firm. During the time spent at the University, the students are assignments different types of assignments, with the objectives of enabling them to take their own initiatives, to work in teams, to organise themselves as they work in groups and to get better understanding of the social aspects of engineering problems and practical acceptable solutions. However, over the years it was noted that though several of the objectives are actually met successfully, the appreciation of the social aspects was not always successful. Students tend to fail to understand that some practical economical solutions were not always the ones that the society would accept and trust. With a view of remedying this issue, the structure of an assignment was modified. Third year students were given this assignment and were asked to liaise with the public to find the socially acceptable solution.
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