Course: 25.108 - Introduction to Engineering II (Civil Engineering)
Semester: Spring 2006
Instructor: Jackie Zhang
Partner:Lowell Community Health Center (LCHC)
AutoCAD drawings, brief reports and presentations for a parking lot re-design for the soon to be expanded Merrimack St. location of the Lowell Community Health Center (LCHC.)
The Lowell Community Health Center (LCHC) is a multi-location health care practice aimed at providing culturally appropriate health care services, regardless of ability to pay for services. Community Relations Coordinator, Paulette Renault-Caragianes, met with Jackie Zhang and the Engineering S-L Coordinator to develop and discuss goals and constraints of a parking-lot redesign project. Later, Paulette met with Jackie and students on-site to discuss LCHC goals as well as project constraints. Unfortunately, the community partner assumed that the faculty was familiar with the city and the anticipated meeting location. In addition to miscommunication, there was also lack of response to faculty and the Engineering S-L Coordinator’s invitations to attend student presentations. Therefore, community feedback was not shared with the seven involved student reports and designs delivered. Furthermore, the Community Partner Evaluation form was not returned. However, when the Engineering S-L Coordinator briefly met Paulette at a community event she indicated that she’d been very busy, felt bad about her lack of responsiveness and had nothing but positive things to say about the partnership with UML. Jackie Zhang, faculty partner on this project, states “lessons learned from this experience make me think that we should layout our expectations on community involvement and present our expectations early to the community to make sure each project brings meaningful and enjoyable experience for both sides.”
Community Relations Coordinator, Paulette Renault-Caragianes, showed Jackie Zhang and the Engineering S-L Coordinator a 48-space parking lot located behind the Merrimack Street site of LCHC. The parking lot was estimated at a utilization rate of approximately 65,000 people per year. The community partner, Paulette, indicated where a new addition would eliminate a portion of existing parking spaces. She also further defined and described where through traffic and handicapped parking locations had to be located and maintained. Then 24 students of the Introduction to Engineering II (Civil Eng.) class subsequently visited the site with rollo-tapes to take measurements and hear about LCHC, and parking constraints directly from Paulette.
Students listened well to the community partner as evidenced by the finer points they incorporated into their designs and presentations. Jackie Zhang reported: “several students indicated that they enjoyed the S-L project the most in their course evaluation. This project allowed me to evaluate how well the students can use all the tools they learned in this class in the most comprehensive way I can imagine. Both students and I enjoyed doing this S-L project. However, I wish our community partner had been more involved.