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An Approach to Developing Interdisciplinary Energy and Environmental Programs

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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

Energy, the Environment, and Nano Technology

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.151.1 - 25.151.11



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Paper Authors


Clifford R. Mirman Northern Illinois University

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Clifford R. Mirman received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1991. From 1991 until 1999, he was a faculty member in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Wilkes University. He is currently the Chair of the Department of Technology at NIU. His research areas are CAD, finite element analysis, and kinematics, both securing grants and writing publications. Mirman is actively involved in ASEE and SME.

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Lesley Rigg Northern Illinois University

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College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Melissa Lenczewski Northern Illinois University

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Melissa Lenczewski is Associate Professor in geology and environmental geosciences and Associate Director of Institute for the Study of Environment, Sustainability, and Energy.

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An Approach to Developing Interdisciplinary Energy and Environmental Programs The need to develop student skills in the areas of energy and environment is animportant undertaking as we advance into the future. As the price and availability offossil fuel goes in opposite directions, new graduates need to understand how to produceand efficiently utilize sustainable energy, as well as how to economically use currentenergy. In addition, changes in the environment have many effects on the population, andthus, there needs to be a magnified knowledge of how we as engineers and technologistsdeal with the environmental needs and regulations, both in the United States and abroad.At Northern Illinois University, a select group of senior faculty members from suchdisciplines of Engineering, Technology, Biology, Anthropology, Geology, Geography,Economics, and Law, have developed a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary approach to theeducation in energy, environment, and sustainability. The NIU center for Energy,Environment, and Sustainability was developed to deal with interconnected educationand research needs in these fields from various points of view, including engineering andtechnology, as well as legal, government relations, and geological, to name just a few.The technology program which was developed has a strong engagement and industryinteraction component as a desired outcome. Students on the NIU campus now have theability to select educational programs in energy and environmental studies from severaldifferent directions; as well as four new minors in these new areas. Students can alsochoose to take individual courses of interest in various energy and environmental areas orthey can even take energy and environmentally related courses as part of the university’sgeneral education core. The new Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability willtouch many of the 17,500 undergraduate students on campus and allow them to choosetheir appropriate level of involvement in this important and timely education. This paper will provide the details behind the degrees developed and the goalsand outcomes involved in the development of the interdisciplinary programs. In addition,the formation of the center, its interdisciplinary nature, and the filling of a majoreducational void on campus will be discussed. The authors will also detail theinterdisciplinary research which is being carried out by the center, incorporating thesocial sciences, humanities, and traditional STEM fields.

Mirman, C. R., & Rigg, L., & Lenczewski, M. (2012, June), An Approach to Developing Interdisciplinary Energy and Environmental Programs Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20911

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