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An Innovative Way to Teach Sustainability in Civil Engineering Material Class

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Innovative Teaching Techniques in the Classroom

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.168.1 - 24.168.8



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Paper Authors


Goli Nossoni Manhattan College

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Dr. Goli Nossoni specializes in the area of civil engineering structures and materials she has worked in multidisciplinary research laboratory. Her research recently expanded to include innovative green and recycled materials. She taught the Civil Engineering Materials course the last two years, and has tried to encourage her students to think critically about the environmental impact of the materials they use and be
more creative. She recently has received an EPA-P3 grant for a multidisciplinary project to develop a sustainable desalination system using solar energy and recycled concrete membranes.

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An innovative way to teach sustainability in Civil engineering Material ClassIn the past decade, the green building movement has gained momentum and there is a need toequip engineering students with a wider knowledge base in terms of environmental, economic,and social attributes of engineered systems, works, and materials. Students not only need anunderstanding of sustainability to make significant engineering decisions, they also need thecritical thinking skills and creativity to supply effective solutions to complex technicalproblems.1 In this context, an active learning environment, including problem-based learning andstudent designed laboratory experiments oriented around sustainability issues in the civilengineering industry is useful for students to develop practical skills.2 Civil Engineering coursesshould also be developed to encourage students to think outside the “technical” box,3 work ingroups, develop leadership and team building skills, and work in a cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary environment. This sort of cross-disciplinary thinking and skills are important forsuccessful execution of projects related to sustainability.Incorporating sustainability in the civil engineering curriculum is difficult due to an already fullprogram. However; it is possible to introduce sustainability concepts into core engineeringcourses while maintaining the original course objectives. A course into which sustainabilityconcepts can be readily incorporated is that dealing with civil engineering materials.Sustainability concepts were introduced to civil engineering student in the Civil EngineeringMaterial course at our school through an innovative term project dealing with the creative use ofrecycled materials in concrete. During the term project students engage in research to designtheir very own new “Greencrete” using recycled industrial waste or byproducts and perform lifecycle assessments of their materials. Students also predict the mechanical behavior of their“Greencrete” and propose an application based on the mechanical behavior of the material.Students work in groups to perform all the steps of the project from design to manufacturing andtesting. During the term project students learn how civil engineering materials can be made moreenvironmentally friendly and to think more creatively.Over the past years student groups designed new Greencretes such as Coffeecrete, Tabcrete,Foamcrete and Jeancreate, each for different applications. Other student groups tried greenconcrete materials that had been reported in literature, such as Cococrete, Tirecrete, Glasscrete,etc. Course evaluations indicated that students found the hands-on laboratory project related tosustainable concrete materials enhanced their learning and also was enjoyable.

Nossoni, G. (2014, June), An Innovative Way to Teach Sustainability in Civil Engineering Material Class Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20059

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