Jordan Ermilio, Engineering Service Coordinator and Adjunct Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been named the College of Engineering’s first Director of Engineering Service Learning to oversee and coordinate service projects and initiatives available to students.
Professor Ermilio is no stranger to the halls of the College, having worked with students for more than a decade and earning both his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1998 and his master’s in Water Resources Engineering in 2006 from Villanova. After graduation in 1998, Professor Ermilio served in the United States Peace Corps from 1999 to 2001 in the Philippines and worked with Oxfam International on post-conflict reconstruction efforts in East Timor.
"As director, I will be able to show students that engineering is more than a career – it is a passion," he says. "It is not the breadth of experience that students will remember, but the depth. Students will learn that we must listen to the local communities we are working with and facilitate solutions from within to provide the kind of engineering services that will assist our partners to meet their development goals."
Service learning, or "reality learning," as Professor Ermilio calls it, "allows our students to understand the impact that engineering has on society." To him, giving back to communities in need is an engineer’s duty. But service learning also creates educational outcomes. Students participate in service learning learn in two ways: through a traditional classroom experience via a student design project and through non-traditional service trips where students experience a hands-on approach. "Immersing the students in the project can spark a profound understanding of engineering design in relation to global issues," says Professor Ermilio.
"In the College, service learning is already integrated into the Villanova experience. Now, we are working to create an integrated approach across every year and discipline," he continues. "Unlike many other schools, we have both breadth and depth of experience. Like an inverted pyramid, the top encompasses one to two weeks of working on a particular project as a volunteer or in class; the top-middle is a year-long project that immerses the students in the problem; the lower-middle is an undergraduate research project or an international summer service experience; and finally, the bottom tip is a graduate research project. This model will ultimately provide students with the opportunity to pursue a comprehensive, hands-on engineering service-learning experience."
As the first Director of the Service Learning Program, Professor Ermilio envisions Villanova as a nationally ranked university for initiatives in service-learning education. In the future, he hopes every student will have an experiential learning opportunity, whether it is through a summer internship, semester-long project, or an immersion experience. Through these unique opportunities, students will graduate and enter the world as civic and global leaders.