Ergonomics Service Learning Project: Implementing an Alternative Educational Method in an Industrial Engineering Undergraduate Ergonomics Course
Page, Lenore T.
Stanley, Laura M.
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The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and the Engineer of 2020, an engineering education initiative, have recommended that engineering students be provided with opportunities to participate in real-world projects to supply them with the skills they will need in the workplace. Service learning is a pedagogical approach where students apply skills they learn in a classroom to a real-world problem identified by a community organization. In 2009, a service learning project was introduced in an undergraduate Ergonomics Industrial Engineering course composed of engineering and nonengineering students at Montana State University (MSU). Its integration and development in the existing course required creating a detailed project description and finding a partner organization. Students worked with clients or staff at the partner organization to develop ergonomic solutions for workplace health and safety issues and manufacturing productivity. At the end-of-semester presentations, the community partners, instructor, and other students assessed each solution's effectiveness. These assessments found that students, compared to the partner's feedback, undervalued their prototypes with regard to how they improved worker and process efficiency, and they overvalued their solution's creativity, cost, and implementation feasibility. In addition, the service learning course's technical and professional skills ranked above the average ABET course outcomes of MSU's Industrial Engineering fall courses. This demonstrates how the service learning project and the intended goals from ABET and Engineer 2020 come together—service learning exposes students to real-world situations that better prepare and inform them of the skills that will be needed after graduation.
Page, Lenore T., and Laura M. Stanley. "Ergonomics Service Learning Project: Implementing an Alternative Educational Method in an Industrial Engineering Undergraduate Ergonomics Course." Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing & Service Industries 24, no. 5 (2014): 544-556. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hfm.20544