Asee peer logo

A Methodology to Model the Integrated Nature of the Sustainable Development Goals: Importance for Engineering Education

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: The Role of Engineering Education towards Attaining UN Sustainable Development Goals

Tagged Divisions

Minorities in Engineering, Liberal Education/Engineering & Society, Civil Engineering, and Community Engagement Division

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


David Zelinka University of Colorado, Boulder Orcid 16x16

visit author page

David Zelinka was part of the first official graduating class from Purdue University's Environmental and Ecological Engineering Program. In his final year, he passed his FE exam focusing in environmental engineering. Following, he completed his MS in Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado Denver in the Environmental and Sustainability Engineering program with his thesis focusing on an environmental impact assessment of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids in coal-bed methane and regular oil and gas wells in Colorado. While in the middle of his master's degree, he also spent a year as a graduate intern at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory studying renewable energy commercialization in Caribbean countries among other areas. He is currently completing is second master's in engineering for developing communities in conjunction with his PhD Civil Systems Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. His trans-disciplinary research involves addressing global development issues from an engineering, political, and economic perspective.

visit author page


Bernard Amadei University of Colorado, Boulder

visit author page

Dr. Amadei is Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received his PhD in 1982 from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Amadei holds the Mortenson Endowed Chair in Global Engineering and serves as a Faculty co-Director of the Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities. He is also the Founding President of Engineers Without Borders - USA and the co-founder of the Engineers Without Borders-International network. Among other distinctions, Dr. Amadei is the 2007 co-recipient of the Heinz Award for the Environment; the recipient of the 2008 ENR Award of Excellence; the recipient of the 2015 Washington and ASCE OPAL awards; an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering; and an elected Senior Ashoka Fellow. He holds five honorary doctoral degrees (UMass Lowell; Carroll College; Clarkson, Drexel, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute). In 2013 and 2014, Dr. Amadei served as a Science Envoy to Pakistan and Nepal for the U.S. Department of State.

visit author page

Download Paper |


There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), comprised of 169 targets and measured by 230 indicators, that cover a myriad of development areas including food, water, sanitation, energy, governance, and climate change, and more. Engineers interested in contributing to the SDGs need to be able to understand not only each goal in depth but also their integrated nature. This paper first emphasizes the importance of: (i) incorporating the SDGs in engineering education; (ii) making engineers aware of their contribution to the SDGs; and (iii) encouraging them to embrace a new systems-thinking mindset to understand how SDGs interact in an integrated manner. The second part of this paper proposes an engineering analytical cross-impact analysis approach to quantify the interactions among the SDGs and organize and prioritize the goals that could most impact the others. Our analysis shows that focusing on SDGs 4 (Education), 6 (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene), 7 (Energy), 11 (Cities) but especially 12 (Consumption), 16 (Governance), and 17 (Partnerships) will influence the other goals and aid in their success. It was also found that focusing on eliminating poverty (SDG 1), counter-intuitively, worsens poverty, since it inhibits the other goals on which poverty depends.

Zelinka, D., & Amadei, B. (2017, June), A Methodology to Model the Integrated Nature of the Sustainable Development Goals: Importance for Engineering Education Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27479

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: © 2017 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