The ability to function in multidisciplinary teams and understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context are important learning outcomes to prepare engineers for a global workforce.1 And, there are increasing calls to enhance undergraduate engineering education with opportunities to engage in real world experiences.2-3 This paper describes the rationale and design of a two-tiered service-learning course model, which provided a new organizational structure to promote interdisciplinary engineering and a socio-technical approach to community problem-solving. Using inquiry-guided learning to scope and implement community projects coupled with the assets of student leaders in the role of project managers, disciplinary silos and resource constraints were overcome to establish a model that was both accessible to students of all levels and majors and adaptable to meet the complex and varying needs of local and international partners. Re-centering the needs, interests, and constraints of community partners created opportunities for interdisciplinary work, as students needed to identify, mobilize, and integrate knowledge and resources from multiple fields to develop and implement effective projects. However, this approach also presented instructional challenges due to multiple degrees of complexity involved in the course design, diversity of student majors and experience levels, the broad range of community partners, and the nature and scope of projects. Implications of teaching in this community-engaged context will be discussed.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign