University of Delaware
Students from UD's Engineers Without Borders course work to develop renovation plans for Tilton Park in Wilmington.

Community-based learning

Engineers Without Borders students develop renovation plan for park


1:48 p.m., March 24, 2014--Nine University of Delaware engineering students worked alongside UD faculty and local community members to develop renovation plans for Tilton Park in Wilmington, Del., on Saturday, March 8.

The park, which sits on almost two city blocks in the Cool Spring/Tilton Park neighborhood, is named for Delaware native James Tilton (d. 1822), the first surgeon general for the United States Army during the War of 1812. It plays an important role in the local community, offering a place for residents to play, relax and host community events. 

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According to Aimee Lala-Milligan, UD alumna and commercial district revitalization manager at Cornerstone West/West Side Grows Together, the park has only a small play area, no athletic areas and no working restrooms. Despite community efforts to improve its upkeep and safety, frequent storm water drainage issues, trash and illegal activities continue to burden the park.

“Our group picked the park project because we wanted to help and thought it was a great opportunity to get real life experience,” said Robyn Hume, a junior environmental engineering major at UD and student communications lead on the project. “We saw the park’s potential and the community's enthusiasm, which made us excited about the project.”

Hume and peers worked together to create a baseline survey map of the park to help affiliated community groups devise a renovation plan as part of their Engineers Without Borders course (CIEG465). With help from J.W. Haupt of Pennoni Associates, the students learned the basics of surveying, including how to set up surveying equipment.

“This is a really neat opportunity for students to collaborate with nonprofits to help make improvements for a local community group,” said Abigail Clarke-Sather, adjunct faculty in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Working under the advisement of Steven Dentel, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Clarke-Sather, the students will create and present a new site map of the park and a park renovation plan to community groups and the city of Wilmington.

They also plan to recommend improvements to the park’s current landscaping and existing play area, including additions such as a new drainage system and a performance area.

“This experience has definitely given me a broader perspective of how much work goes into a project and how different groups of people have to coordinate in order to make the project a success,” Hume noted. 

She continued, saying that the project has also given her and her peers the opportunity to gain real life experience and practical knowledge while giving back to the community.

Article by Jessica Zoch

Photos by Evan Krape

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