Engineering Right from the Start

Engr Right from the Start - Engineering Right from the Start

A group of first-year engineering students at Loyola Marymount University didn’t have to wait long to gain some hands-on experience. They hadn’t even taken their first finals before going to midtown Los Angeles, assessing physical conditions at a transitional house for women and children, studying water drainage of a playground and making suggestions for improvements that would include swing sets for kids. The students are part of Programming for Engineering Education Community (PEEC), a living-learning community at LMU. Now in its second year, PEEC is comprises of 27 engineering freshmen who are recruited during orientation. They live in a dormitory and are enrolled in four linked courses taught by faculty from the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering and Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. Among the community-building events this year was their project at Alexandria House. LMU’s Center for Service in Action works with Alexandria House, which offers practical support and consultation for women and teenagers, including skills-building, referral services and homework assistance. What Alexandria House didn’t have was a modern swing set for younger children. It was with this swing-set project that the freshmen first got their hands dirty. The PEEC students surveyed the space for playground equipment, carefully documenting the ground gradation levels. They then studied and determined the water drainage pattern in the area. Next, the LMU group researched various styles of swing sets that would work in the space. Their 13-page report, which includes other issues in the development of a play area, is being used by the contractor on the job to assist him with the construction. Through the project, the students were able to live out the program mission statement – which they composed at the beginning of the fall semester – to “create a community of student engineers through education and service, for the greater good.” “I see that these students are more focused,” said Stephen Rice, the associate director of Residence Life who oversees oversees LMU’s living -learning communities. “The Alexandria House project has helped these students develop a sense of purpose as engineers who give back to others.”