Learning through the design of a fish hatchery for a community on the Cheyenne river reservation - An EWB service-learning project

Yusuf Mehta, Peter Mark Jansson, Dianne Dorland

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Engineering students, with faculty guidance, undertook a service-learning experience focused on the design of a fish hatchery on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in Red Scaffold, SD. The team developed a technical guide for implementation of a commercial fish facility producing 100,000 pounds of fish annually that utilizes water reuse technology and local natural resources. The project provided a knowledge base on the existing geothermal well and how it may be utilized to produce electricity. The design assisted the tribe in securing needed funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The College of Engineering has integrated Engineers-Without-Borders (EWB) into its formal curriculum through its widely acclaimed Engineering Clinic sequence. Clinic is a required course (from the freshman through senior years) in which multidisciplinary teams of students carry out independent research projects over the course of one or more semesters. They are a vital part of the "hands-on, minds-on" curriculum where students apply engineering principles to projects sponsored by industry, government or individuals. EWB projects present opportunities for students to apply engineering theory to real life problems that are not only outside of the classroom, but also often outside of their country and culture. Properly addressing the problem required the students to appreciate the societal and cultural impact of any system they introduced. Students first prepared for this by researching the history of the tribe and its culture. This information was crucial for adequate preparation in the preliminary site assessment. This experience presented enormous opportunities for both the community at Cheyenne and for the university students and faculty. The success of the project is due to the collaboration of the two communities. The people of the Reservation in Red Scaffold are getting ready to construct a fish hatchery which will provide a needed source of food and income. They are also learning basic engineering concepts, so that they will be able to maintain and expand the system when necessary. The university students are learning lessons that they would never get in a classroom, while applying their classroom education to genuine engineering problems. They also were exposed to the Native American culture and a way of life that most Americans never experience. A multidisciplinary team of five students from chemical, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering conducted analysis and design on a broad range of topics such as waste solids removal, ammonia-nitrogen control, heat loss analysis, and power calculations for available methane gas from the existing wells in Red Scaffold. The work of the students in the clinics was supplemented by volunteer help from the EWB student chapter members. EWB receives broad administrative support, promoting the value of service learning and inter-collegiate activity while providing oversight for curriculum standards. College seed money has been provided and EWB is an element of ongoing development campaigns for sustained funding. This paper presents the pedagogical techniques used to enhance student learning through this project and the process developed to integrate the EWB and other service learning projects into the junior and senior years of the Engineering Clinics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007
Event114th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2007 - Honolulu, HI, United States
Duration: Jun 24 2007Jun 27 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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