Service Learning

Engineering Experiential Learning in the Service of Others

When it comes to engineering, there’s nothing like hands-on experience. And there's also nothing like using your engineering skills to help people.

UC Merced’s School of Engineering offers students myriad opportunities for service-inspired experiential education. Academic courses that can be take even in the first year and applied toward a degree are supported by The Foster Family Center for Engineering Service Learning.

As a graduating senior, the goal of your capstone project in the Innovation and Design Clinic could be to make a difference for a nonprofit and the people it serves. And as members of UC Merced co-curricular organizations, students also learn in a less formal setting as they perform thousands of hours of service each year. All these programs are designed specifically to help students work with real community partners to solve real challenges using what they are learning in their engineering courses.

Our unique approach gives students the opportunity to practice functioning in their chosen professions while still in an academic setting.

Imagine how that experience will affect their future careers!

The Foster Family Center for Engineering Service Learning supports UC Merced faculty members as they mentor students through their experiential learning. Mentorship provides students steady guides and role models as they prepare for their futures, including finding ways to serve others with their talents and knowledge.

Through the Center, students work with nonprofit community partner organizations that have specific business challenges. The Center brings together students from all grade levels and disciplines to design compelling solutions that address their community partners’ needs. Students gain valuable experience through projects that have lasting and practical conclusions, while the community partners get much-needed technical solutions tailored to their individual needs.

The Center, with its affiliated PG&E Engineering Service Learning Laboratory, is where student teams establish ongoing professional relationships with community partners, interacting closely with them to fully understand each partner’s challenges and needs.

Each team works as a cohesive group – each student contributing his or her own part – to design an innovative solution. Students learn how to delineate project objectives, formulate work plans, implement solutions, and monitor and assess their project’s effectiveness.

The Foster Family Center for Engineering Service Learning is supported through corporate and private partnerships. It was created to be the premier research and training environment for the Engineering Service Learning courses, and the Center and the PG&E Lab give the students room to meet and collaborate with faculty advisers and community partners, study, innovate and develop prototype solutions. The generous support of the Foster Family and PG&E make all this possible.