June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.285.1 - 11.285.7
Bridging the Gap between Environmental Engineering, Chemistry, and Biology
Abstract Recognizing the intellectual merit of interdisciplinary studies to undergraduate students, a new environmental engineering course was developed to better expose the engineering students to the world of analytical chemistry and biology. Students from the Biology and Chemistry Departments were enrolled in this course along with the environmental engineering students. The course was team-taught by three professors (including the author) from the respective departments. The course has both theoretical and laboratory components associated with it. Students were first introduced to the concept of sustainability with its three-pronged elements: social, economic, and environmental. With the increasing awareness of the potential hazards associated with the consumption of water or fish contaminated with harmful metal concentrations associated with either natural occurrence or human activities, the overarching environmental theme for this course was water quality in lakes and rivers. Following that was an introduction to the techniques of quantitative analytical instrumentation and the fundamental underlying principles of analytical chemistry. With that students gained a basic understanding of the most common methods of environmental testing, as well as the ability to discern between reliable and unreliable data. Finally, the Biology section introduced the students to the world of biota (fish and algae) and how contamination of natural resources has direct impact on the food chain. Interdepartmental teams were formed to carry out experiments designed to measure the concentrations of target contaminants in different environments. Concentrations of metals of concern in water and sediments were analyzed using a flame atomic absorption spectrophotometer. Students also set up microcosms and analyzed the metal content for algae, fish, rooted and non-rooted macrophytes. This interdepartmental collaboration helped promote environmental studies in the education of undergraduate students. As a result, students gained more fundamental understanding of instrumental analysis of contaminants in soil, water, and biota, and the effect of pollution on the entire ecosystem and its environmental sustainability.
Rihana-Abdallah, A. (2006, June), Bridging The Gap Between Environmental Engineering, Chemistry, And Biology Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1412
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