Duke Engineering students and constructing a local partners build a suspended bridge in Rwamahwa, Rwanda

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Service-Learning Courses in Engineering

Learning through creating solutions for neighbors in need

Our commitment to engineering in service to society extends to how we train the next generation of engineers.

A quarter of Duke Engineering students take at least one course, from any part of Duke, in which they engage in a minimum of 20 hours of planned service activities integrated with the academic subject matter.

As detailed below, Duke Engineering offers courses in which students learn while working sensitively and ethically with community clients to design solutions with impact.

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EGR 101L: Engineering Design and Communication

Developing problem-solving skills by working with real-world clients 

All Duke Engineering first-year students take this course as part of our signature undergraduate experience. It teaches the engineering design process and builds student self-efficacy through the designing of solutions to challenges faced by clients in the community.

Students work in teams to understand their client's problem, investigate potential solutions, and build prototypes. The teams work in the Duke Engineering Design Pod and The Foundry—well-equipped "maker spaces" stocked with tools and prototyping technologies.

Previous Student Projects

More at fyd.duke.edu »

Ann SaterbakContact

Ann Saterbak

Professor of the Practice, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Director, Duke Engineering First-Year Experience


BME 230L: Global Women's Health Technologies

Using human-centered design to address underserved community challenges

This course explores the intersection of technology, women’s health and global poverty. Student teams work closely with a community representative to identify a need related to light in a low-resource setting, and then use the human-centered design process and circuitry concepts to prototype a functional solution.

Open to both engineering and Trinity College of Arts & Sciences students, the course provides an interdisciplinary experience with meaningful real-world applications.

Previous Student Projects

  • A multifunctional light source, serving as both a headlamp and room light
  • A portable light source for dental examinations
  • Solar-powered lighting on a backpack, for children

More at globalwomenshealthtechnologies.com »

Nimmi Ramanujam


Nimmi Ramanujam

Robert W. Carr, Jr., Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Director, Global Women's Health Technologies


BME 460L: Devices for People with Disabilities

Creating custom technology to aid people in the community 

Students receive an overview of assistive technologies, patent issues and engineering ethics. The service-learning component involves work with people in the community with physical limitations or disabilities.

Student teams are paired with health care professionals at local hospitals who supervise product design and development.

Officially labeled in the Duke catalog as a service-learning course »

Previous Student Projects

  • Prosthetic adaptation for shoulder disarticulation
  • Improving user experience with home oxygen therapy
  • Facilitated art engagement for children with cerebral palsy

More at sites.duke.edu/atdesign »

Kevin M. Caves


Kevin M. Caves

Instructor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Recipient, 2019 Betsy Alden Outstanding Service-Learning Award


CEE 315: Engineering Sustainable Design and the Global Community

Designing solutions to identified community needs

Working in partnership with a community agency—local, national or international—students participate in an experimental learning process by engineering a design solution for an identified community need. Students may select course section 315-20, which has a structural focus, or section 315-60, which has an environmental focus.

Students learn technical design principles, sustainable and engineering best practices, prototype formation, testing and evaluation, and research and analysis methodologies in a community-based research experience.

Officially labeled in the Duke catalog as a service-learning course »

Previous Projects

  • A clinic building in Uganda
  • A pedestrian footbridge for an isolated village in Bolivia
  • A vehicular bridge for a community in Uganda

More at sites.duke.edu/deid »

David E. Schaad


David E. Schaad

Professor of the Practice of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Affiliate, Duke Global Health Institute