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Urban Water Projects class introduces service-learning and collaborative design

A class in Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University is stepping outside the typical classroom setting to provide a real-world, client-based design experience for students. EEE 49500, Urban Water Projects was launched in 2013 by the Director of Service Learning, Dr. Lindsay Payne in an effort to provide best-management practices when dealing with items like stormwater.
In this course, students collaboratively design and implement community-based urban water projects, integrating not only their discipline-specific knowledge but also community partner and local stakeholder knowledge as well. As they manage a project from inception to implementation throughout the semester, students gain professional engineering and sustainability competencies, including design, communication, teamwork, grant-writing, budget management, and leadership.

EEE 49500 has been offered four times to date, linking students to nine community partners: Bauer Family Resources, Cary Home, Christ United Methodist Church, Fire Station #8, Food Finders Resource & Education Center, Imagination Station, Oakland Elementary School, Right Steps Child Development Center, and Tecumseh Junior High School.

A student in the Urban Water Projects class helps a child place a native plant in the ground as part of a water garden project at Bauer Family Resource Center.

Projects have resulted in the installation of 38 stormwater management projects including rain gardens, rain barrels, bioswales, and native savannas that also serve as educational demonstration sites for the public. The projects collectively divert over 2,000,000 gallons of water, 60 pounds of nitrogen, 12 pounds of phosphorus, and over 1,600 pounds of sediment from the Wabash River annually.

Additionally, these efforts engaged 96 Purdue students and over 600 community members with the support of over $150,000 in federal and industry funding.