Public Interest Technology for First Year Engineers

March 14, 2022

Serve-Learn-Sustain is co-leading an exciting new project! “Public Interest Technology (PIT) for First-Year Engineers,” is a collaboration of the Writing and Communication Program and Serve-Learn-Sustain; its co-principal investigators are Andy Frazee, the WCP’s Director, and Ruthie Yow, an SLS Service Learning and Partnership Specialist.  The project is funded by a GT “AMP” (Amplify Momentum Project) grant—one of seven recipients across the Institute—and it connects first-year engineers to community-based experiential learning themed around technology for the public good. Our initiative brings together four community partners, four Brittain Fellows in the Writing and Communication Program, and four College of Engineering faculty members. These collaborators will together design a PIT- and service-learning-infused syllabus appropriate for all first-years, but of particular interest to engineering students. This project more broadly advances the incorporation of community engagement into the College of Engineering curriculum and the equipping of engineering students to be change agents at GT and in their lives after graduation. The team is currently developing project descriptions for summer sections of ENGL 1102.  These projects will weave together engineering concepts with public interest technology themes and will expose first-years to community-based partners and leaders who are advancing solutions and forging coalitions around the most pressing issues of our moment. The project team is chock-full of verve, brilliance, and creativity. The community partners include Garry Harris, Founder of the Sustainability Solutions Group; Akissi Stokes, CEO of WUNDERGrubs; Donna Stephens, Founder of the Chattahoochee Brick Company Descendants Coalition; and Freddie Stevens, III, Director of Housing of the Grove Park Foundation. The College of Engineering faculty partners include Matthew Realff, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; John Taylor, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Mary Ann Weitnauer, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Chen Zhou, Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering.   This initial installment describing the project, PIT for First-Year Engineers, will focus on the four Marion L. Brittain Fellow members of the team. Please read on to learn a little about them!

Renee Buesking, PhD

“What really interests me with this project is to see how the process of creating a course in conversation with my community partner ends up working out. I'm excited to see how the course grows and changes based on our conversations and based on how students respond. It's a great opportunity to go through the entire creation process working with a team.”

 

 

 

Suchi Dutta, PhD

“This is an incredible opportunity for me to create a cross-disciplinary course placed at the intersections of Public Interest Technology, literary studies, multimodal writing, and community development. I am excited to expose my students to the timely and powerful work done by the Grove Park Foundation which will allow these first-year engineers at Georgia Tech to engage with the local Atlanta community in diverse ways.”

 

 

Lee Hibbard, PhD

"Working with community partners is so exciting because it gives students the chance to see the kind of impact their educations will have on the ground, taking high concept and abstract ideas about public interest tech and environmental impact and giving them life and experience students can process. Working with Garry Harris with the Center for Sustainable Communities in Atlanta means the students in Engineering here at Georgia Tech will have an incredible opportunity to experience the real-world impacts of the concepts they're currently studying, and that kind of learning has me eager to see what we can all accomplish together.” 

 

 

 

Mike Lehman, PhD

“A public interest technology lens into service learning with local partners gives students opportunities to see the importance of a humanities-based education in understanding why their work matters in a global world. By working with Akissi Stokes and her company WUNDERGrubs, I am excited to help students understand how local, community building companies like Akissi’s can serve as a model to re-think hunger and food toward a more equitable, sustainable future.”