June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.188.1 - 22.188.26
An Introduction to Infrastructure for All DisciplinesASCE Releases Infrastructure Report Card. New Round of Stimulus Spending to TargetInfrastructure. Failing Infrastructure an Anchor on Economic Progress. News headlines such asthese clearly indicate that the status of our nation’s infrastructure is a topic of current interest toengineers, politicians, city planners, and society at large. In contrast to this broad need,Universities have not provided widely-accessible introductory courses on infrastructure and itsintertwined technical and social issues. This paper presents the results of a yearlong effort todevelop and execute an undergraduate course in Infrastructure Engineering that is bothtechnically rigorous and broad enough in perspective to appeal to many academic majors,particularly the social sciences. The course focuses on the identification of infrastructureelements and assessments of infrastructure functionality. Major blocks of instruction includenetwork fundamentals; environmental systems including water, wastewater, and sanitarylandfills; electrical power generation, transmission, distribution, and consumption; and road andrail transportation systems. Since the overarching goal of the course is to produce graduates whoare conversant in the principles of infrastructure functionality and the role of infrastructureelements and systems in society, the interaction of infrastructure with other dimensions ofsociety—political, social, military, and information—is emphasized to the same degree as theengineering technical content. Achievement of these goals and student understanding andchanges in perspective are assessed through homework, exams, reflections on readingassignments, a course project, and course surveys. The paper presents the framework for thecourse and its place within the curriculum, assessment from the first semester the course wasoffered and commentary on the future of the course and its potential for broader adoption acrossthe academic enterprise.
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