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Building Sustainability into Control Systems: A New Facilities-Based and Hands-On Teaching Approach

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.309.1 - 26.309.16



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Paper Authors


Melody Baglione Cooper Union

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Melody Baglione is an associate professor at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science in Art in New York City. She teaches courses in the areas of systems engineering, feedback control, mechanics, vibrations, and acoustics. Melody completed her PhD at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and brings with her 7+ years of industry experience, primarily in automotive powertrain systems. Melody is currently developing inductive and hands-on teaching methods by integrating case studies, practical laboratories, and real-world projects into the mechanical engineering curriculum. Her current projects include: incorporating the HVAC and building automation systems of Cooper Union’s new LEED-Platinum academic building into the control systems curriculum; designing interactive K-12 STEM learning technology; modeling and optimizing vehicle systems; and characterizing structural dynamics properties using experimental modal analysis.

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Building Sustainability into Control Systems: A New Facilities-Based and Hands-On Teaching Approach Melody Baglione The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and ArtThis paper and poster presentation will present an overview of and outcomes from an NSFTransforming Undergraduate Education in STEM (TUES) project, “Building Sustainability intoControl Systems Courses.” The new inductive teaching strategy utilizes an energy efficientacademic building to provide students with direct, practical exposure to modern heating,ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and building automation systems. First, studentsconduct process control laboratory experiments that mirror professional practice. Newcurriculum materials introduce basic operational principles of central HVAC systems andprovide an overview of the control systems theory involved. Students then tour the HVACmechanical rooms in a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum-ratedacademic building.A value-added, mixed-method assessment strategy uses both direct and indirect techniques toclosely track student performance and outcomes. The assessment plan was designed to measurestudent learning outcomes, the project’s impact on student motivation, as well as efficacy of theproject beyond its initial implementation. The assessment plan followed three paradigms: 1. It is value-added, utilizing a pre- and post- evaluation method of student learning gains via concept inventories and a standardized Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) survey. 2. It is mixed-method, using quantitative (pre- and post- concept inventories and scoring rubric of teacher/assessor observations of student performance) and qualitative (semi- structured interviews) evaluation techniques. 3. It is performance assessment, with a scoring rubric based on Bloom’s taxonomy to code and register student cognitive understanding, and closely follows the design of the project from inception.A HVAC and building control systems concept inventory was created and implemented as a pre-and post-survey to assess learning gains. Students describe their understanding of these newsystems in a short writing assignment; the assignment is evaluated using a cognitive skills rubricbased on Bloom's Taxonomy. Customized pre- and post- SALG surveys assess perceivedlearning gains and affective outcomes. In addition, an external evaluator assessed the impact ofthe project using lab observations as well as interviews with key informants. After the initialimplementation phase, the new course interventions were implemented by two new instructors toevaluate the efficacy of the project.Student survey results, student interviewers, and external evaluator and instructor observationssuggest exposing students to real-world applications of classroom theory positively impactslearning and engages students in the learning process. The new teaching approach has a positiveimpact on affective outcomes, such as increased appreciation for the course material and interestin working on projects related to building systems. These results are confirmed by the number ofstudents that have initiated research projects related to building systems after being exposed tothe new teaching strategies and materials. 1

Baglione, M. (2015, June), Building Sustainability into Control Systems: A New Facilities-Based and Hands-On Teaching Approach Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23648

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