EEE495 students receive service-learning grant, Install three water gardens

Making an impact in the community we live in and providing best-management practices when dealing with stormwater are just a few examples of the lessons learned in EEE495, the Urban Water Projects class.

Recently, a group of students in the course moved outside the typical classroom setting and collaboratively designed and implemented rain gardens and native savannas with community partners. These projects were supported by service-learning grants from Purdue's Office of Engagement.


The Office of Engagement provides grants to students and student organizations for work on community service learning projects with the intent of expanding the community involvement of Purdue students.

EEE495 students, Elizabeth Eboli, Morgan Swanson, Adrienne Farr, and YeChan Lim used the grant funds to introduce a native savanna at the United Way, while Maritza Villalobos, Sam Hensley, Sarah Chase, and Ashley Van Wormer (civil engineering) installed rain gardens at the CityBus Transfer Center. Additionally, Megan Geraghty, Jenna Klinedinst, Tom Barone (civil engineering), and Paige Bradley (EEE minor) introduced a rain garden and native savanna at Evangelical Covenant Church.

“The support of the Office of Engagement’s Service-Learning Grant Program has been critical to the success of these projects," said EEE495 Professor and Director of Service Learning, Lindsay Payne. "Not only does this program offer students experience writing grants, but it also helps support a real-world, authentic learning experience in which students learn alongside community partners and develop professional engineering skills.”

The students worked with the community partners to negotiate a design space and propose a best-use plan prior to the installations. This allowed the students to utilize their education and expertise gained from the class.

Adrienne Farr, a student in EEE495, installs a native plant at the United Way of Greater Lafayette as part of the course.

The installed rain gardens and native savannas will help protect surrounding groundwater sources and the Wabash River from pollutants found in stormwater by filtering the runoff from impervious surfaces such as parking lots, roofs, and sidewalks.

In total, the EEE 495 class has installed 55 stormwater management projects including rain gardens, rain barrels, bioswales, and native savannas that also serve as educational demonstration sites for the public. These projects collectively divert over 2,500,000 gallons of water, 65 pounds of nitrogen, 12 pounds of phosphorus, and nearly 2,000 pounds of sediment from the Wabash River annually.

Additional funding for the Evangelical Covenant Church project was also provided by the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation through their cost-share program.