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An Assignment For Awareness Of Some Environmental Issues Related To Thermodynamics

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Meeting ABET Requirements

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.178.1 - 11.178.7



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Paper Authors

author page

Nihad Dukhan University of Detroit Mercy

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

An Assignment for Awareness of Some Environmental Issues Related to Thermodynamics


The new ABET criteria outcome (h) is the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in an environmental and societal context. This was partially addressed by selecting an assignment for a class of seven students taking the first course of thermodynamics at the mechanical engineering department of the University of Detroit Mercy. The assignment consisted of identifying one of the negative impacts of energy conversion on the environment, describing it, its cause, the pollutants associated with it, its effect on the environment and any governmental regulations that deal with it. The students selected acid rain, greenhouse effect and smog formation. They worked in three groups. The assignment proved to be beneficial in many ways. It put one of the topics of thermodynamics in perspective. The assignment also partially fulfilled one of the targeted outcomes for accreditation, as mentioned above. The benefits of the assignment on the students’ understanding of some of the environmental issues were assessed by carefully analyzing their reports and by using a survey that they had to complete. Both methods showed that the students enjoyed and learned a great deal about the topic they had to write about. When asked if the assignment would resonate with them after graduating, they all said ‘yes’, and thus they would take the environmental effects as a factor when making engineering decision.

1. Introduction

The vast and rapid technological change, growing population, the looming energy shortages, and the increasing environmental issues has called for changes in engineering curricula to prepare engineering students for the future. Under Criterion 3 titled Program Outcomes and Assessment, item (c), the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) states that all engineering programs must demonstrate that their students have “an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.” Under item (h), it says that the students must have “the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.” [1].

The National Academy of Engineering in their report titled The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century says: “The world faces significant environmental challenges in the future. At the same time there is a great opportunity for engineering to serve as a force to help society solve the problems associated with these challenges. This requires a holistic understanding of economic growth and development in terms of the principles of sustainability. The present generation has the obligation to leave a legacy to those who follow so they can have the opportunity to appreciate the unrestrained beauty of nature, the full diversity of the world’s flora and fauna, and ancient and modern cultures and their artifacts. It is our aspiration that engineers will

Dukhan, N. (2006, June), An Assignment For Awareness Of Some Environmental Issues Related To Thermodynamics Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--279

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