This paper reports on the major undertaking of providing real problems with actual community partners as the basis of design projects for approximately 900 first-year engineering students. The initiative was dubbed the ROXIE project, ‘Real Outreach eXperiences In Engineering’. The goal was to have engineering students work on real projects with actual clients rather than contrived less meaningful projects. Sustainability is a key element in three primary aspects of the ROXIE project. First, numerous projects for the community were directed at finding sustainable solutions to problems around their operation or economic viability. The second sustainability aspect for the ROXIE project involves identifying hands-on activities and associated materials for the once per week workshop sessions associated with the large lecture course. The third aspect of sustainability for the ROXIE project addresses issues of how to sustain and maintain the partnerships and instructional infrastructure of such a large undertaking for the long-term. This paper provides the motivation and greater detail of the background of ROXIE and then expands upon the three aspects of sustaining sustainable design highlighted above. Early results of integrating an area of social significance into design education have been very positive. Reflections from students, community partners and the instructional team are shared. Summary and future plans are also included.
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