June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.433.1 - 13.433.11
Development of Master’s Programs in Sustainable Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology
During the 2006-2007 academic year, a team of faculty from the Kate Gleason College of Engineering developed a proposal for a pair of Master’s programs (a Master of Science program and a Master of Engineering proposal) in the field of Sustainable Engineering. Sustainable Engineering has been described as “engineering for human development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” . Both programs are multidisciplinary in nature and include coursework from the disciplines of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering Technology, and Public Policy. The programs offer students the flexibility to develop ‘tracks’ in their program of study which would permit deeper immersion in domains such as renewable energy systems, systems modeling and analysis, product design, etc. Student interest in the programs has been very favorable. This paper describes the context at RIT from which the idea for these programs arose, the program development process that was followed, and the structure of the two programs.
Efforts to reform engineering education over the past two decades have met with limited success. Although some engineering programs have effectively addressed a new vision for engineering pedagogy, the National Academy of Sciences  and the National Research Council [10, 11] have identified several problematic attributes in engineering education. In particular, engineering programs have been criticized for their inability to effectively integrate multiple engineering and non-engineering disciplines in solving today’s complex science and technology problems.
Nowhere is the appreciation of the technical and non-technical aspects of the engineering field more appropriate than in problem domains related to “sustainability”. Interest in sustainability and related issues continues to grow nationally as well as internationally. A sustainable economy is one that can meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs . Moving an economy toward the goal of sustainability presents myriad challenges for all professions, especially business and engineering. As we move forward in the 21st century, the problems associated with delivering society’s goods and services using traditional, non-sustainable practices will become more apparent, and the value of more environmentally and socially responsible approaches to meeting society’s needs will become increasingly evident. Engineers and managers must be equipped to become environmental leaders and decision makers.
Thorn, B., & Carrano, A. (2008, June), Development Of Master’s Programs In Sustainable Engineering Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3736
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