Hybrid Virtual- and Field Work-based Service Learning with Green Information Technology and Systems Projects
Traditional engineering service learning (SL) projects can be classified as: 1) collaborations with a community group or non-profit organization to provide specific engineering around a community need, or 2) an internship-like experience with industry to address work requested by a client. The limitation of both traditional SL approaches is that they do not prepare students to implement unprescribed projects. In contrast, here students chose both the project and the partner for a self-directed engineering SL experience. This paper presents the findings of this novel pedagogical exercise in which students acted as change agents for industry by implementing unsolicited energy conservation measures (ECMs) focused on green information technology and systems (IT/S), in order to improve organizations’ environmental and economic performance. The hybrid SL projects had both ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ (field-work) SL components. For the virtual component, student teams developed and published on-line, open-source ECM calculators. For the field-work component, the teams self-selected industry clients and performed IT/S energy audits. Applicable ECMs were then selected and tailored, forming the basis of recommendations to the organizations. Results demonstrate the effectiveness of such hybrid engineering SL projects.
Energy Conservation, Green IT/S, Virtual Service Learning, Sustainability