Auburn Family

Volunteering vs. Classes: Why Not Do Both?

Volunteering and giving back to the community has always been a major part of the culture here at Auburn. Now it is being written into the curriculum at the College of Architecture, Design and Construction.

The program is called “CEBE” and stands for “Civic Engagement in the Built Environment.” It is a recent joint initiative by the McWhorter School of Building Science and the social work program in the College of Liberal Arts.

Linda Ruth, the lead faculty member for the initiative, described the work and goal of the program.

“CEBE is a multidisciplinary outreach initiative for nonprofit organizations in the local community. Students involved in the class are put into teams to help with facilities needs of these organizations – planning new facilities, maintenance of current facilities, and building new facilities as need be,” Ruth said.

Ruth, an associate professor in building science, had the initial idea for CEBE six years ago. “We’ve gone through several different versions of the project,” she said, “but we really wanted to increase undergrad participation, and what we have now is the most updated version.”

CEBE is divided into a core group of students from the College of Architecture, Design and Construction and, depending on the project, a consulting student from other specialized programs. Most core groups contain somewhere from three to six architecture students. In the past, students aside from the core group have included social work, veterinarian, industrial design, landscape architecture, and engineering students as needed.

“CEBE most recently assisted the East Alabama Medical Health Center by building a ‘GardenPark’ for their day services program,” Ruth boasted. The group worked to transform half of an old parking lot into a relaxing garden and park for the people who used the day services.

Potential future projects include working with the Lee County Development Center to create a pet therapy program, which would mean building facilities for the pets involved, and moving the Solar House from Donahue to College Street so as to help the College of Forestry.

The volunteer benefit affordable to students in this scenario is immense. Students in the architecture and building sciences get hands-on application developing their planning, maintenance, and building skills. They also reap the gratifying benefits of assisting the local community. Furthermore, they gain additional practice with not-so-obvious skills: fund raising, material collection and assortment, and direct feedback from their clients.

While an amazing opportunity for students, CEBE is actually a surprisingly competitive program. Those interested must be architecture and building science majors and need to submit a resume or application to participate. More information can be found at the website for the College of Architecture, Design and Construction.

“We’re looking for the program to grow,” Ruth said. But if you’re looking for a program that grows you, this is it.

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Tags: architecture, civic, community, volunteer


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