Service Learning
A teaching tool connecting community and classroom

Electronic Engineering Projects in the Community

Electronic Engineering Projects in the Community

Course Director: Liam Kilmartin
Course Title: BE in ElectronicElectronic & Computer Engineering
Subject: EE325/EE326 Third Year Project Module
Year: 3rd Year
Participants: 12 students
Hours: 50 Hours
Credits: 6 ECTS
Length: 6 months
Community Partners: Enable Ireland, DeafHear.ie, COPE Galway and the National Council for the Blind of Ireland

All third year students in the Electrical & Electronic Engineering (EEE) discipline within the College of Engineering and Informatics undertake service learning based group projects involving the development of technology prototypes for the clients of various community organisations such as the NCBI, Deafhear.ie, COPE and Enable Ireland.

"During the projects, the students get very valuable and rewarding experience interacting with the organisations and their clients and they get an appreciation of how the needs of all users need to be considered when designing electronic and software products" according to Liam Kilmartin, the lecturer in EEE who co-ordinates the programme.

Example projects include Rowmate, a smartphone app that allows visually challenged individuals to utilise and interact with screen based indoor rowing machines, a system to allow older people with memory problems to manage the process of taking daily medications and the development of a solution to allow children with little or no limb control to interact with video games. The programme, now in its fourth year, raises awareness amongst the electronic engineers of the future of how their design work and decisions can have very positive impacts on the lives of some groups within society. It also teaches them to consider the issue of inclusivity when making a design decision by putting themselves in the place of a wide range of different potential users. A public poster event highlighting this year's projects took place in the foyer of the new Engineering building during the week of the 27th February to the 2nd March 2012. Further details related to the module can be found in a peer-reviewed conference paper by Liam Kilmartin on ‘A Case Study of Enhancing Learning Outcomes for Undergraduate Electronic and Computer Engineering Students through a Service Learning Based Project Module'.

Further detailed information on this experience:

Kilmartin L. (2010). ‘A Case Study of Enhancing Learning Outcomes for Undergraduate Electronic and Computer Engineering Students through a Service Learning Based Project Module', Transforming Engineering Education: Creating Interdisciplinary Skills for Complex Global Environments, 2010 IEEE, pp 1-18. Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/TEE.2010.5508846.

Two projects (HomeSense and RowMate Access), completed under the third year Electronic & Computing community-based project module were invited to participate in the 2012 National Council of the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) Technology Showcase. These were the only under-graduate projects in the competition and were up against several commercial products and prototypes developed by post-graduates. The RowMate Access project was one of two runner's up.