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CLICS – Integrating Data from Campus Sustainability Projects Across Disciplines

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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

Sustainability and Hands-on Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.351.1 - 26.351.15



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Paper Authors


Susan E. Powers Clarkson University

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Susan E. Powers is the Spence Professor of Sustainable Environmental Systems and the Associate Director of Sustainability in the Institute for a Sustainable Environment at Clarkson University. She received her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1992 and has had a variety of academic appointments at Clarkson University ever since. Her research includes technical and environmental assessment of sustainability efforts and energy and climate education initiatives at middle, high school and collegiate levels. In the wide range of classes that Dr. Powers has taught at middle school to graduate levels, she focuses on teaching the process of engineering problem solving in a real-world environment. By focusing on complex and relevant environmental problems, the importance of societal impacts and communication can be stressed as well as providing a basis and relevance for technical material needed to address the engineering problem

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Jan DeWaters Clarkson University

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Jan DeWaters, PhD, PE is an Assistant Professor in the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering at Clarkson University. She teaches introductory courses on energy issues and energy systems, and is part of the development team for Clarkson’s First Year Engineering/Interdisciplinary course, “Engineering and Society.” Her research interests are in the broad realm of STEM education and literacy.

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Stefan J. Grimberg Clarkson University


Daqing Hou Clarkson University

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Daqing Hou is Associate Professor in Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Clarkson University, Potsdam, New York. His research interests include Software Engineering, Engineering Education, and Energy Efficiency and Conservation.

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Mary Margaret Monica Small Clarkson University

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Dr. Small is currently the Director of Educational Partnerships at Clarkson University's Shipley Center for Innovation. She has served as the external evaluator on this project as well as several other NASA and NSF funded projects. Dr. Small joined Clarkson's Office of Educational Partnerships in 2006 as Curriculum Coordinator. A career educator, she has been a public school teacher, building principal and central office administrator. Dr. Small has also taught organizational leadership and curriculum and assessment courses at the graduate level.

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CLICS – Integrating Data from Campus Sustainability Projects across DisciplinesCLICS (Cyber-Learning Infrastructure for Campus Sustainability) is a cyber-learning tooldeveloped to integrate data from campus sustainability projects into a form that can be used in awide variety of classes for relevant, experiential and place-based learning opportunities. Thebroad goal of this endeavor is to engage undergraduate students in order for them to excel theircompetencies with 21st Century skills.XXXXX funding has been used to develop CLICS’ computational and educational framework,pilot the methods at XXXX University and assess its impact on students. CLICS has beendeveloped with data specific to XXXX’s integrated greenhouse and digester project. This data-rich infrastructure provides a wealth of opportunities for understanding and evaluatingengineered systems from diverse disciplines and perspectives. Testing of CLICS during the F13and S14 semesters led to significant improvements in the computer interface that is used toaccess and interpret data from these systems. The interface and sustainability systems conceptsare incorporated into Calculus II, Statistics and Civil/Environmental Engineering courses in theF14 semester, with a broader distribution of use in classes from all engineering disciplines in theS15 semester. In each class, students use the CLICS interface to access system data, they usecontent knowledge from the specific class to evaluate the data and interpret the capacity of thecampus greenhouse-digester system to operate in a sustainable manner.The project’s impact on students’ sustainability literacy is measured with a pre/post onlinequestionnaire that assesses multiple dimensions of sustainability content over three responseoutcomes: knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. The survey items use a 5-point Likert-type scale.Students who completed the survey pilot in spring 2014 (n=106) scored higher on affectivesubscales (mean=4.18) than on knowledge (3.82) or behavior (3.23). Students scored highest onknowledge questions about systems concepts and lowest on questions related to climate change.In the other domains, students were more concerned with environmental issues than witheconomic or social justice issues, they have most confidence in their knowledge about renewableenergy and least confidence in their knowledge about waste minimization. Students tend to beadept at recycling, but do not make purchases that reflect their concern for sustainability.Completed pre/post student surveys from F14 and S15, currently underway, will be analyzed tomeasure changes in student responses after participating in the CLICS projects.Formative assessment was also completed to evaluate the project itself. On a 5-point Likert scale,students selected agree or strongly agree to the following statements: using data made theassignment more relevant for me (72%); the data were overall useful (76%); and, the experiencewas positive (70%).The objective of this presentation and paper is to share the general CLICS framework and itssuccesses in order to generate interest in replicating this type of experience at other institutionswith their own campus sustainability data.

Powers, S. E., & DeWaters, J., & Grimberg, S. J., & Hou, D., & Small, M. M. M. (2015, June), CLICS – Integrating Data from Campus Sustainability Projects Across Disciplines Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23690

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