STEM Engaged Learning

Construction Management at CSU Fresno

The Construction Management (CM) program in Lyles College of Engineering at CSU Fresno recently completed significant revisions in its undergraduate curriculum, which is now featuring hands-on experiences in sustainable construction. Service learning has become an integral component of three core courses at different levels: freshman, sophomore and senior. Each course mandates a minimum of 20-hours of service-learning activities related to construction.

Dr. Vivien Luo facilitated a learning community that included CM faculty, university service-learning staff, students and community partners. Their goal was to enhance the quality of service learning in energy conservation and efficiency. The learning community members worked closely together throughout the spring semester and met monthly to make continuous improvements in course content and service-learning project activities. As a result, students were provided with better learning experiences for a deeper understanding of their course material.

Student service-learning experiences in the Spring 2013 included the following:

  • GRID Alternatives: installed a solar electrical system for a low-income home in Fresno.
  • GRID Alternatives: gave presentations on energy efficiency and conservation to low-income homeowners; conducted energy audits; installed energy efficient lighting and power saving electrical strips.
  • Stone Soup Fresno: conducted energy efficiency upgrades in their existing buildings; removed a total of 74 single-pane windows and replaced them with high-energy efficient dual pane windows.
  • FUND: remodeled an old veteran’s home in downtown Fresno.
  • Self-Help Enterprises: constructed new homes for low-income families in Reedley, CA.

View photos and video of the students' experiences below.

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CSU Fresno Construction Management students work with GRID Alternatives to install solar power panels.

A CSU Fresno Construction management students makes an important connection through her service-learning course.

CSU Fresno Construction Management students feel "sunny" about their solar panel installation.

Finally, in addition to increased engagement, student learning and energy savings, the project also resulted in a few unexpected outcomes:

  • In CM7s, Construction Materials and Basic Building Systems, out of 23 students, 22 completed more than the mandatory 20 hours of service and 18 students completed 30 or more hours of service. Most students worked on more than one project. One student wrote in his reflection paper: "I developed a sense of compassion towards my work, and wanted to see it finished regardless of the time I spent on it."
  • Almost all students expressed in a post-semester survey that they would like to continue to serve at the site(s) at which they worked during the semester.
  • At the end of the semester, three agencies offered paid internships to Fresno State students.