SUstainable—Shedding a New Light on Learning

December 7, 2015

By Eddie Devino On a typical first day of a college course, the professor introduces themselves, hands out their syllabus, covers it in depth, and starts lecturing. But, when eight students, including myself, met in a small conference room with Assistant Professor Jesse Bond for a brand new “Service Learning Projects in Sustainability” class, his introduction was anything but typical. Our syllabus only provided a framework for the semester and an idea of how service learning would be incorporated with learning about sustainability in energy production. The content of the class was to be largely directed by us, the students. Our goal was to create a semester-long project in which we would build a system to sustainably generate energy and give back to the community in some fashion. We hit the ground running in the first few minutes, generating ideas for the overarching project that would guide the course. From these discussions, we decided to work on two main projects—to build a bicycle generator that produces electricity from mechanical energy and to use piezoelectric technology to produce electricity, which is to harvest the energy used in the deformation of a device. The class is set up more as a business team than as a typical class. Each week, we present the work we’ve done in the past week to Professor Bond and the rest of the class, and attempt to give advice and feedback on what is going on. Unlike in a typical classroom where every student has the same assignments, each student has their own set of responsibilities. As a group, we have discussed our personal strengths and weaknesses in a work setting, and divided up tasks based on where each student would be most efficient. This course places a great amount of responsibility on each student to carry out their work due to the fact that each person’s task is what each class is centered around. If a student comes into class without anything accomplished, the entire class is hindered as a result. The course structure that Professor Bond has given us gives us accountability for our work and for the advancement of the class. As a class, we must remain energized and knowledge-hungry to keep the class moving along. This may be atypical for a classroom setting, but it is much more practical for a real world setting. There has been a learning curve, but it is one that, as a class, we are dealing with well. It has allowed us to exercise a skill that we often ignore in our coursework—creativity. Creativity allows one to expand their mind, and grow as a person. Especially in a world of dense textbooks and late nights of computations, a chance to grow as an engineer and expand your thoughts is priceless. Along with the obligations to our classmates, we have an obligation to the outside community. We have planned an event that will cover all we have done while in the course that will be open to the public in hopes to educate each attendee about electricity generation and sustainable energy. We also have been working closely with Fowler High School. We have created an after school program for students that have an interest in engineering and in our specific project. This allows us to show all that we have learned and accomplished throughout the project and provide a possible source of inspiration for other potential engineering students. This component of the course has given true meaning to our learning by being able to inspire and enlighten others. To all that are coming into, have previously gone, or are interested in Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, I highly recommend taking Bond’s class. It is open to all disciplines of engineering and the end product will ideally have a resonating effect throughout the Syracuse community, which allows each student enrolled to become a better learner, and in the end, a better engineer. To see what the Service Learning Projects in Sustainability class is up to, follow them on Instagram at @su_stainable. ________________________________________________ Eddie Devino ’17  is a chemical engineering student in Syracuse University's College of Engineering and Computer Science. He is gearing his education towards the field of alternative energy by minoring in energy systems with a sustainable focus, along with minoring in cultural anthropology. Aside from all things engineering, you will often find Eddie at People’s Place, serving the richest (and cheapest) coffee on campus. His interest in chemical engineering stems from his interest in mathematics and chemistry in high school. Devino hopes to use his degree and all of the knowledge gained throughout college and channel it into a career that is oriented around helping other people with modern technology and engineering. There are only a few things he takes more seriously than his engineering education—the Boston Celtics, his facial hair, and his coffee consumption.