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Development Of An Ecological Engineering Curriculum At The University Of Maryland

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.159.1 - 1.159.7

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Patrick Kangas

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

I .— - . . . ..—

.. . . . . Session 3151 Development of an Ecological Engineering Curriculum at the University of Maryland

Patrick Kangas Biological Resources Engineering/University of Maryland

INTRODUCTION .- Ecological engineering is a relatively new discipline that utilizes ecosystems and ecological principles to solve problems that traditionally have been addressed with conventional technological options and thinking. The new designs from ecological engineering are generally less expensive or have lower energy intensity than traditional approaches and they often result in more environmentally sound systems or decisions. These qualities of ecological engineering designs (less economic cost and greater environmental value) are bringing more attention to the discipline from decision makers, who seek to implement the designs, and from educators, who must decide how to incorporate the information into university curricula. In this paper the efforts at the University of Maryland towards developing an ecological engineering curriculum are described. There are two purposes of the paper: 1) we hope the experiences derived from our efforts may be useful to others thinking about university programs in ecological engineering and 2) we hope to stimulate discussion and ideas from others that will improve our efforts and help us overcome problems with curricula development.

Formal use of the term “ecological engineering” began in the 1960s with H. T. Odum. He used engineering principles and techniques to build model ecosystemsl’2 and later he combined engineering and ecology to create “interface ecosystems” for treating wastewater in North Carolina3 and in Florida 4. In addition to these design efforts, Odum’s symbolic modeling language, which also was initiated in the 1960s5 , has strong ties to engineering diagramingG’7 which suggests another possible source for the origin of the term “ecological engineering”. More detailed discussions of Odum’s development of ecological engineering are given elsewhereg’9.

Use of the term ecological engineering has expanded from H. T. Odum, first through his students and now through a journal published by Elsevier and an international society of the same name. Furthermore, others outside of H. T. Odum’s direct influence are now taking up the term as a formal discipline]O’l 1 and recommending it as an important research direction12. Other allied approaches have grown up that also deal with ecological engineering but under different 13 1 names. Ecological design ’14’ 5 is one important example that has recently resulted in an

. ------ y@.., } 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings ‘J3113#:

Kangas, P. (1996, June), Development Of An Ecological Engineering Curriculum At The University Of Maryland Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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