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Center for Engagement and Community Development

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K-State professor, students test community water supplies

K-State Engagement E-News, September 2007 (PDF)

Alok Bhandari testing a water sample at K-State's Campus Creek.

Alok Bhandari testing a water sample at K-State's Campus Creek.

K-State civil engineering students are making an impact on the Manhattan community. Alok Bhandari, associate professor in civil engineering, broke the traditional classroom mold to introduce service learning projects to his students.

"Service learning gives students a context for real world learning," Bhandari said. "Only after I tried it did I realize the true value for the students and the community."

Bhandari's most recent project included a hydrologic assessment of K-State's Campus Creek, which stretches from the School of Veterinary Medicine to Manhattan Avenue. K-State's Division of Public Safety contacted Bhandari's class to conduct a survey of the quantity and quality of water.

Students in the Natural Resources and Environmental Resources capstone class broke into two groups to analyze the water in the creek. The first group studied the creek's water capacity during storm flows and the possibility of flooding. The second group analyzed the quality of the water.

All Bhandari's service learning projects are funded by WaterLINK, a service learning project available to all college and university faculty and watersheds in Kansas. WaterLINK is funded by the Kansas Department of Health & Environment.

Results from service learning projects also extend beyond the Manhattan community. Bhandari will present the results from several K-State projects at the American Society of Engineering Education conference on October 1-4 in Istanbul, Turkey.

"Students involved in service learning projects have seen the difference between conventional classroom work," Bhandari said. "Service learning provides not only career impact, but human impact."