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Combining Educational Studies, Research And International Experiences In Sustainable Engineering

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Sustainable Engineering

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.371.1 - 12.371.14



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Paper Authors

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Eric Beckman University of Pittsburgh

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Mary Besterfield-Sacre University of Pittsburgh

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Gena Kovalcik University of Pittsburgh

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Matthew Mehalik University of Pittsburgh

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Robert Ries University of Pittsburgh

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Kim Needy University of Pittsburgh

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Laura Schaefer University of Pittsburgh

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Larry Shuman University of Pittsburgh Orcid 16x16

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Combining Educational Studies, Research and International Experiences in Sustainable Engineering

Eric Beckman, Mary Besterfield-Sacre, Gena Kovalcik, Matthew Mehalik, Kim LaScola Needy, Robert Ries, Laura Schaefer, Larry Shuman

School of Engineering University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA


A new challenge facing engineering educators is how to train both undergraduate and graduate students to routinely include sustainability topics as important design criteria. Equally important is the need for engineering students to both broaden their perspective and learn to function collaboratively in cross-cultural environments. The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Engineering is addressing these issues by educating students from the BS through PhD levels as part of a comprehensive educational and research program in sustainability. This program has numerous sources of funding, including the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program (IGERT) and International Research Experiences for Students Program (IRES), the US Department of Education’s Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN), and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliances (NCIIA) as well as private foundations. We present our plan to create an innovative sustainable engineering program, with primary research foci in green construction and sustainable water use. This interdisciplinary initiative involves faculty and students from across the University of Pittsburgh. To best address global concerns, we have partnered with the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in São Paolo, Brazil to provide substantial international and research experiences. In addition, to increase the number of Hispanic American engineering students, we have created partnerships with the University of Texas-El Paso and University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. Also, to best prepare students for study and research in sustainability, a special sequence of courses is being implemented at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Finally, the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Latin American Studies is developing a sequence of courses in Brazilian Portuguese to better prepare students for their international experience. This paper presents an overview of our initiative and describes progress at the end of the first year with respect to research and pedagogy with a special emphasis on describing the new course development.

1. Introduction

The hallmark of US engineering has always been innovation, especially in the design of new products and processes that are optimized to reflect performance and price ideals. Although engineering designers have focused on performance and price criteria for over a century, the growing recognition that the world’s resources are finite while its population continues to

Beckman, E., & Besterfield-Sacre, M., & Kovalcik, G., & Mehalik, M., & Ries, R., & Needy, K., & Schaefer, L., & Shuman, L. (2007, June), Combining Educational Studies, Research And International Experiences In Sustainable Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2724

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