Kevin Caves: 2019 Faculty Recipient of the Betsy Alden Outstanding Service-Learning Award

Monday, May 6, 2019
kevin caves

It is a great pleasure to nominate Professor Kevin Caves for the Betsy Alden Outstanding Faculty Service-Learning Award in recognition of his ongoing commitments to the ideals of service-learning.

Kevin teaches Biomedical Engineering (BME) 460L: Designing Devices for People with Disabilities as a capstone senior design service-learning course for biomedical engineers. In it, students are matched with a community member to develop and tailor assistive technology projects for specific clients, clients Kevin recruits through is close connections with disability services organizations in the North Carolina Triad and Triangle. In Kevin’s words, “I’m looking for people with problems for whom solutions don’t exist, or with existing solutions that we could make significant improvements to. The class challenges students to design, build, prototype, test and build a device that will actually get used by real people after they’re done.” A team of students in Kevin’s spring 2016 BME 460L course won the SourceAmerica Design Challenge in April 2016, a national engineering competition in which participants create innovative workplace technologies for people with disabilities, after designing two devices for Durham Exchange Club Industries (DECI), a non-profit community rehab program that provides vocational work for people with disabilities.

Kevin was a member of the Service-Learning Faculty Fellows in 2016-17 and was, with little room for debate, the most enthusiastic Fellow ever! Kevin relished the opportunity to network with and learn with and from other service-learning faculty colleagues. Kevin worked to more meaningfully embed reflection opportunities in his course, and embraced a social justice framework for his teaching through membership in the Service-Learning Faculty Fellows program, followed by participation in Duke’s Teaching for Racial Equity Fellows program. Kevin is a valuable participant in these communities as he brings a unique perspective to conversations due to his specialized talents and his course’s particular learning outcomes.

Kevin embodies Duke Service-learning goals for faculty growth based in engagement in this pedagogy. He shows true commitment to participating in our learning community and building sustained partnerships in the community. To support students in their work building apparatus that will work for a person with a disability requires great attention to critical reflection --ranging from topics of social justice, humility to how things work and real world scenarios. Kevin successfully maneuvers through all these layers of production, implementation, and learning and changes lives by improving access and mobility.

Kevin is a champion for service-learning at Duke. He is a terrific fellow to spend time with, and is invested in Durham, his students, and his colleagues’ experiences. Kevin meets all of the hopes for Alden Award recipients and it is an honor to submit this nomination.

--Joan Clifford, PhD and Amy Anderson, PhD