An Aerospace Engineering Student’s Perspective on Learning in Community

Learning inLearningLearning in Community (LINC) has served as perhaps the single most important course of my entire college career.  My freshman year I became involved with LINC by enrolling in the University YMCA section.  I wasn’t really sure what the course was about, but throughout high school I had been involved in a variety of volunteer organizations, so I decided that a service-learning course sounded like a good volunteer opportunity. I quickly learned that there is much more to service-learning than just volunteering. 

By Philip Barnett (Aerospace Engineering, Class of 2016)

Philip (far left) poses with some members of his LINC team during a visit to Allerton Park.

LINC taught me how to serve, rather than just providing opportunities for service.  At first this may seem like a confusing statement; however, once you begin to understand what LINC is really about, you will understand.  LINC focuses on equipping students with the tools to become not just residents of our community, but actively-participating citizens in our community and across the world.  As a LINC student, I worked with the YMCA to develop a bike-sharing program and improve some of the organization’s sustainable initiatives.  As a freshman who had volunteered for hundreds of hours throughout high school, I thought I knew everything there was to know about service; I could not have been more wrong.  LINC taught me the importance of researching and observing issues, rather than impulsively doing what we think may be helpful.  I learned to critically evaluate and document my own work, making me a much stronger researcher and writer.  Most importantly, I learned the value of teamwork; I found that you can’t tackle the big issues like poverty and climate change without a strong team beside you.

Midway through my LINC course, my Project Manager began to ask me if I would be interested in becoming a future Project Manager.  By the end of the semester, I knew that serving as a LINC Project Manager was in my future.  I wanted to give back to the course that had given me so many skills, in hopes that I could inspire other students to make an impact on the community.  My junior year, I served as a LINC Project Manager for the Allerton Park section, addressing issues of sustainability and community involvement.  For those who may not know about Allerton Park, it is a university-owned park located in Monticello, Illinois that serves as one of the biggest hubs of art and culture in central Illinois.  The Park had set a goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2035, a whole 15 years before the university’s ICAP (Illinois Climate Action Plan) goals call for.  Our section hoped to help them reach this goal by securing funds for a solar array that would produce approximately 8% of the electricity for the park, as well as developing a transportation system to bring students to the Park in a carbon and monetary cost-effective way.  We also created lesson plans for elementary children that would teach them about living sustainably and taking care of the environment. 

In order to reach these goals, we had to overcome many obstacles.  The first, and perhaps most daunting, was convincing 14 students that our work was worthwhile and went beyond just a letter grade.  With the help of my co-Project Manager, we watched our students become not only interested, but passionate about our work with Allerton Park.  Rather than working as individuals, a strong sense of camaraderie began to develop.  The students began to take ownership of the work, and we saw the emotional highs and lows associated with investing oneself in a cause that has the potential to have a lasting impact.  We began to lead students out of their comfort zone, encouraging them to take on leadership, critically analyze situations, and recognize when research yielded meaningful results.  We pushed our students to volunteer, try teaching the elementary lessons, and learn to work with lab equipment.  You would be hard-pressed to find any of these skills being developed in other courses, but all were offered in LINC. 

Following LINC, I regularly check in with the Allerton Park and LINC staff to learn how our work continues to impact our community.  I have taken what I learned as a Project Manager to an RSO I founded during the fall semester: Illini Aerospace Outreach.  This organization is focused on consolidating outreach opportunities offered by the Aerospace Engineering Department, as well as creating new opportunities to spark interest from children grades K-12 in science and engineering.  LINC enabled me to serve as a strong leader for this organization and provided me with the tools to turn engineering topics into exciting learning opportunities.

LINC has enabled me to become a successful leader, researcher, and teacher, in ways unlike any other course on campus.  I’ve made many new friends, learned many new things, and made a lot of great memories along the way.  I cannot stress enough how important this type of learning is to the college experience of every student, regardless of major.  If you’re afraid of this course because it’s offered by the College of Engineering or is a 300-level course, I have some advice: Don’t worry about it!  If you are committed to making an impact on your community or communities across the world, LINC is for you.  Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  If you’re interested in giving back, consider taking a LINC course; you won’t regret it and it may become the single most important course of your entire college career as well.

 

Aerospace Engineering, Class of 2016 in Community (LINC) has served as perhaps the single most important course of my entire college career. My freshman year I became involved with LINC by enrolling in the University YMCA section. I wasn’t really sure what the course was about, but throughout high school I had been involved in a variety of volunteer organizations, so I decided that a service-learning course sounded like a good volunteer opportunity. I quickly learned that there is much more to service-learning than just volunteering.
LINC taught me how to serve, rather than just providing opportunities for service. At first this may seem like a confusing statement; however, once you begin to understand what LINC is really about, you will understand. LINC focuses on equipping students with the tools to become not just residents of our community, but actively-participating citizens in our community and across the world. As a LINC student, I worked with the YMCA to develop a bike-sharing program and improve some of the organization’s sustainable initiatives. As a freshman who had volunteered for hundreds of hours throughout high school, I thought I knew everything there was to know about service; I could not have been more wrong. LINC taught me the importance of researching and observing issues, rather than impulsively doing what we think may be helpful. I learned to critically evaluate and document my own work, making me a much stronger researcher and writer. Most importantly, I learned the value of teamwork; I found that you can’t tackle the big issues like poverty and climate change without a strong team beside you.
Midway through my LINC course, my Project Manager began to ask me if I would be interested in becoming a future Project Manager. By the end of the semester, I knew that serving as a LINC Project Manager was in my future. I wanted to give back to the course that had given me so many skills, in hopes that I could inspire other students to make an impact on the community. My junior year, I served as a LINC Project Manager for the Allerton Park section, addressing issues of sustainability and community involvement. For those who may not know about Allerton Park, it is a university-owned park located in Monticello, Illinois that serves as one of the biggest hubs of art and culture in central Illinois. The Park had set a goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2035, a whole 15 years before the university’s ICAP (Illinois Climate Action Plan) goals call for. Our section hoped to help them reach this goal by securing funds for a solar array that would produce approximately 8% of the electricity for the park, as well as developing a transportation system to bring students to the Park in a carbon and monetary cost-effective way. We also created lesson plans for elementary children that would teach them about living sustainably and taking care of the environment.
In order to reach these goals, we had to overcome many obstacles. The first, and perhaps most daunting, was convincing 14 students that our work was worthwhile and went beyond just a letter grade. With the help of my co-Project Manager, we watched our students become not only interested, but passionate about our work with Allerton Park. Rather than working as individuals, a strong sense of camaraderie began to develop. The students began to take ownership of the work, and we saw the emotional highs and lows associated with investing oneself in a cause that has the potential to have a lasting impact. We began to lead students out of their comfort zone, encouraging them to take on leadership, critically analyze situations, and recognize when research yielded meaningful results. We pushed our students to volunteer, try teaching the elementary lessons, and learn to work with lab equipment. You would be hard-pressed to find any of these skills being developed in other courses, but all were offered in LINC.
Following LINC, I regularly check in with the Allerton Park and LINC staff to learn how our work continues to impact our community. I have taken what I learned as a Project Manager to an RSO I founded during the fall semester: Illini Aerospace Outreach. This organization is focused on consolidating outreach opportunities offered by the Aerospace Engineering Department, as well as creating new opportunities to spark interest from children grades K-12 in science and engineering. LINC enabled me to serve as a strong leader for this organization and provided me with the tools to turn engineering topics into exciting learning opportunities.
LINC has enabled me to become a successful leader, researcher, and teacher, in ways unlike any other course on campus. I’ve made many new friends, learned many new things, and made a lot of great memories along the way. I cannot stress enough how important this type of learning is to the college experience of every student, regardless of major. If you’re afraid of this course because it’s offered by the College of Engineering or is a 300-level course, I have some advice: Don’t worry about it! If you are committed to making an impact on your community or communities across the world, LINC is for you. Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” If you’re interested in giving back, consider taking a LINC course; you won’t regret it and it may become the single most important course of your entire college career as well.
Philip Barnett
Aerospace Engineering, Class of 2016
Philip (far left) poses with some members of his LINC team during a visit to Allerton Park.Community (LINC) has served as perhaps the single most important course of my entire college career. My freshman year I became involved with LINC by enrolling in the University YMCA section. I wasn’t really sure what the course was about, but throughout high school I had been involved in a variety of volunteer organizations, so I decided that a service-learning course sounded like a good volunteer opportunity. I quickly learned that there is much more to service-learning than just volunteering.
LINC taught me how to serve, rather than just providing opportunities for service. At first this may seem like a confusing statement; however, once you begin to understand what LINC is really about, you will understand. LINC focuses on equipping students with the tools to become not just residents of our community, but actively-participating citizens in our community and across the world. As a LINC student, I worked with the YMCA to develop a bike-sharing program and improve some of the organization’s sustainable initiatives. As a freshman who had volunteered for hundreds of hours throughout high school, I thought I knew everything there was to know about service; I could not have been more wrong. LINC taught me the importance of researching and observing issues, rather than impulsively doing what we think may be helpful. I learned to critically evaluate and document my own work, making me a much stronger researcher and writer. Most importantly, I learned the value of teamwork; I found that you can’t tackle the big issues like poverty and climate change without a strong team beside you.
Midway through my LINC course, my Project Manager began to ask me if I would be interested in becoming a future Project Manager. By the end of the semester, I knew that serving as a LINC Project Manager was in my future. I wanted to give back to the course that had given me so many skills, in hopes that I could inspire other students to make an impact on the community. My junior year, I served as a LINC Project Manager for the Allerton Park section, addressing issues of sustainability and community involvement. For those who may not know about Allerton Park, it is a university-owned park located in Monticello, Illinois that serves as one of the biggest hubs of art and culture in central Illinois. The Park had set a goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2035, a whole 15 years before the university’s ICAP (Illinois Climate Action Plan) goals call for. Our section hoped to help them reach this goal by securing funds for a solar array that would produce approximately 8% of the electricity for the park, as well as developing a transportation system to bring students to the Park in a carbon and monetary cost-effective way. We also created lesson plans for elementary children that would teach them about living sustainably and taking care of the environment.
In order to reach these goals, we had to overcome many obstacles. The first, and perhaps most daunting, was convincing 14 students that our work was worthwhile and went beyond just a letter grade. With the help of my co-Project Manager, we watched our students become not only interested, but passionate about our work with Allerton Park. Rather than working as individuals, a strong sense of camaraderie began to develop. The students began to take ownership of the work, and we saw the emotional highs and lows associated with investing oneself in a cause that has the potential to have a lasting impact. We began to lead students out of their comfort zone, encouraging them to take on leadership, critically analyze situations, and recognize when research yielded meaningful results. We pushed our students to volunteer, try teaching the elementary lessons, and learn to work with lab equipment. You would be hard-pressed to find any of these skills being developed in other courses, but all were offered in LINC.
Following LINC, I regularly check in with the Allerton Park and LINC staff to learn how our work continues to impact our community. I have taken what I learned as a Project Manager to an RSO I founded during the fall semester: Illini Aerospace Outreach. This organization is focused on consolidating outreach opportunities offered by the Aerospace Engineering Department, as well as creating new opportunities to spark interest from children grades K-12 in science and engineering. LINC enabled me to serve as a strong leader for this organization and provided me with the tools to turn engineering topics into exciting learning opportunities.
LINC has enabled me to become a successful leader, researcher, and teacher, in ways unlike any other course on campus. I’ve made many new friends, learned many new things, and made a lot of great memories along the way. I cannot stress enough how important this type of learning is to the college experience of every student, regardless of major. If you’re afraid of this course because it’s offered by the College of Engineering or is a 300-level course, I have some advice: Don’t worry about it! If you are committed to making an impact on your community or communities across the world, LINC is for you. Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” If you’re interested in giving back, consider taking a LINC course; you won’t regret it and it may become the single most important course of your entire college career as well.
Philip Barnett
Aerospace Engineering, Class of 2016
Philip (far left) poses with some members of his LINC team during a visit to Allerton Park.

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