Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


College of Engineering


Jennifer Mott Peuker

Advisor Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


While engineering service-learning projects are seen as a favorable way for students to reinforce curricular learning while gaining cultural awareness, the outcomes of these projects center student benefits over partner community wellbeing. For these projects, and in other engineering contexts, various scholar-activists have conceptualized numerous principles and methods to center justice and equity in engineering outcomes. This research project and its associated intervention involved collecting scholarship and methods in engineering and social justice, and attempted to integrate these ideas into the practices of a local humanitarian service-learning engineering team. The collected scholarship centered around the topics of Design Justice, feminist qualitative science & technology studies, and Latin American decolonial theory. In partnership with the Engineers Without Borders Cal Poly Local projects team, following the frameworks of critical participatory action research and community autoethnography, the author spent time with the team to build relationships and facilitated presentations, dialogues, and activities around the collected scholarship. Two sets of semi-structured interviews were conducted before and after the intervention, and qualitative data was analyzed using iterative thematic inquiry. This project found that a local humanitarian engineering-service learning environment was a suitable space to advocate alternative design principles and methods, and that students expressed a desire to learn more about these topics, as well as utilize and share these resources with their friends and in other contexts such as their professional careers. Students experienced moderate amounts of success in using the collected scholarship to modify their project practices, specifically their plans for community assessment. These results imply that other spaces and organizations with an explicit focus on service or social justice may be ideal environments to attempt to implement alternative design principles, and that more efforts to enable students to learn about and share alternative principles could have lasting effects.