Asee peer logo

A Community-Engagement-Based Design Project in Introductory Environmental Engineering

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Experiences in Engineering Community Engagement

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.27.1 - 23.27.14



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Mary Cardenas Harvey Mudd College

visit author page

Dr. Mary P. Cardenas is the LaFetra chair in Environmental Engineering at Harvey Mudd College at Claremont, Calif. Dr. Cardenas earned her B.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering from Iowa State Engineering. She joined Rocketdyne as a propulsion engineer and worked on the Space Shuttle Main Engines, Atlas Engine, and the X-30 propulsion system. Dr. Cardenas received her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Environmental and Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara, studying the transport and fate of PCBs and sediments in the Saginaw River. She has been a member of the Engineering department at Harvey Mudd College since 1995, and has served as associate dean of Faculty for Academic Affairs. She is the co-author of the Journal of Engineering Education paper, "Use of "Studio" Methods in the Introductory Engineering Design Curriculum" and co-developer of the sophomore-level rocket-based experimental engineering lab course at HMC. Dr. Cardenas is currently exploring novel pedagogy for Introductory Environmental Engineering courses.

visit author page

Download Paper |


A Community-Engagement-Based Design Project in Introductory Environmental EngineeringA collaborative, community-based design project was implemented in the upper-divisionundergraduate technical elective Introduction to Environmental Engineering. Students integratedtechnical engineering skills, newly-learned geographical information system (GIS) skills, and theengineering design process, all in the context of the design of a debris flow barrier for awilderness land parcel acquired by a local conservancy group.The Rosemont Preserve is a wilderness land recently preserved by the Arroyos and FoothillsConservancy. The Conservancy is working to steward the land and to produce programs for thelocal community. As part of the wilderness land preservation, the Conservancy is interested inthe design of a more-aesthetically pleasing debris flow barrier for the Rosemont Preserve.The conservancy board of directors served as liaisons for the design project, providedbackground material and the project statement to the student team, as well as answered questionsand provided guidance during the design process. The student team characterized the wildernesssite; acquired relevant GIS data; studied the physics of debris flow and examined previous debrisflow barrier designs. The team produced alternative designs for the barrier and chose the bestdesign by applying design metrics. The alternative designs and rationale for the chosen designwere presented to the board of directors of the Conservancy.This particular project included a significant tie to community involvement and engagement ofthe students with the local community. If the Conservancy decides to implement the students’design, it will be a part of the preservation and stewardship of the Rosemont Preserve.

Cardenas, M. (2013, June), A Community-Engagement-Based Design Project in Introductory Environmental Engineering Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19041

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015