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A Hands-on Experience in Air Pollution Engineering Courses: Implementing an Effective Indoor Air Pollution Project

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Hands-on Laboratory and Design Experiences in Environmental Engineering

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.57.1 - 25.57.15

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Paper Authors


Andrew Ross Pfluger P.E. U.S. Military Academy Orcid 16x16

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Andrew Pfluger is an officer in the U.S. Army and an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering. He holds two graduate degrees from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. He currently teaches environmental science and air pollution engineering at USMA.

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David-Michael P. Roux U.S. Army

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David-Michael P. Roux, P.E., is a U.S. Army officer and was an instructor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He taught introductory courses in environmental science, environmental engineering, and air pollution control. Roux's academic and research interests include engineering education and physicochemical/biological treatment in
environmental engineering.

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Michael A. Butkus U.S. Military Academy

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Michael A. Butkus is a professor of environmental engineering at the U.S. Military Academy. His work has been focused on engineering education and advancements in the field of environmental engineering. His current research interests are in physicochemical treatment processes with recent applications in drinking water disinfection, lead remediation, sustainable environmental engineering systems, and contaminant transport. Butkus is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Connecticut. He holds a patent on a method for disinfecting water with UV radiation and silver.

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A Hands-On Experience in Air Pollution Engineering Courses: Implementing anEffective Indoor Air Pollution ProjectAbstractMany undergraduate environmental engineering programs have courses on air pollutionengineering; however, most of these courses do not include a hands-on learningexperience. This shortcoming can influence ABET accreditation since the EnvironmentalEngineering Program Criterion (Criterion 9) states that students must have an ability toconduct laboratory experiments, critically analyze, and interpret data in more than onemajor environmental engineering focus area, e.g., air, water, land, environmental health.Additionally, ABET outcome “b” states that graduates will develop the skills necessaryto plan, design, execute, and critically interpret results from experiments. Students in theEnvironmental Engineering Program at the United States Military Academy (USMA)have water-related laboratory experiences in lower-level courses, such as jar testing andbiochemical oxygen demand experiments, similar to those found in many undergraduateenvironmental engineering programs at other universities. This work presents a rathernovel air pollution laboratory project that provides students an opportunity to develop andtest a hypothesis related to an indoor air quality issue that interests them. This paperpresents the methods and materials required to implement this educational experience inenvironmental engineering programs to meet ABET accreditation requirements.Preparation for the project requires student teams (3-4 students) to develop a basicevaluation and sampling protocol to test a potential indoor air pollution problem.Students first identify a pollutant of concern, either a gas (CO, Cl, VOC, Radon, O3) orparticulate matter, and identify a feasible and safe location on campus for testing.Students often chose projects that address myths about the air quality in certain buildings,which aids in interest and the learning process. Students are then supplied with theappropriate air pollution monitoring devices and given a period of five weeks to collectdata, use statistical analysis to interpret the data, and analyze the results. Student teamsare required to submit a 5-page technical report on their methods and findings and mustcompare the concentration of pollutants they detect to the Permissible Exposure Limitsfor occupational exposure to indoor air pollutants established by the National Institute forOccupational Health and Safety. Students receive feedback on their protocols and resultsfrom their customer (other students, engineers with the department of public works), theirinstructor, and/or the environmental engineering lab manager. Students are required togive the instructor in-progress reviews throughout the project, and to present final resultsto the customer. This laboratory project gives students the opportunity to test ahypothesis, quantify a real-world indoor air pollution problem, and demonstratesignificant partnership between professional engineers and students, while uniquelymeeting ABET accreditation requirements.

Pfluger, A. R., & Roux, D. P., & Butkus, M. A. (2012, June), A Hands-on Experience in Air Pollution Engineering Courses: Implementing an Effective Indoor Air Pollution Project Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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