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Energy Awareness Efforts At Baylor University

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Curricular Developments in Energy Education

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.491.1 - 13.491.16



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Paper Authors


Kenneth Van Treuren Baylor University

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Dr. Van Treuren is a professor on the faculty in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Baylor University. He teaches the capstone Mechanical Engineering Laboratory course as well as courses in heat transfer, aerospace engineering, fluid mechanics, and wind power. His research interests include energy education and literacy and gas turbine heat transfer. He can be contacted at

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Ian Gravagne Baylor University

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Dr. Gravagne is an assistant professor with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Baylor University. He teaches the Engineering Design II (“senior design”) course, as well as technical electives in solar energy, robotics and engineering mathematics. His principal research interests are the engineering applications of dynamic equations on time scales and energy education. He can be contacted at

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

Energy Awareness Efforts at Baylor University


Understanding energy, where it comes from, and how it is used, will become increasingly important in the future. At Baylor University, the authors have undertaken two efforts to help the public and students become more energy literate.

The authors received a grant in 2007 to develop an “Energy Room” at the Mayborn Museum on the Baylor campus. The Mayborn Museum is a facility that “provides a wide spectrum of learning opportunities to engage all types of visitors.” A grid-tie solar photovoltaic system and a small wind turbine were installed by seniors on the roof of the museum in the spring of 2007. Controls for these components, along with a demonstration wind turbine, exterior wall and window displays, and instrumentation will be part of the public exhibit. The paper details these elements and the student involvement in their construction.

A second effort is the creation of an energy literacy class for incoming freshmen. This class was created as part of Baylor University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) presented to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Faculty were given the opportunity to develop residential learning communities for incoming freshmen that revolve around a theme. The topic of energy, and its associated societal, political, environmental and economic threads, was submitted by the authors and eventually selected for development into a course that is being offered for the first time last fall. A total of 28 freshmen from a wide diversity of disciplines voluntarily signed up for the course and will remain in it for up to four consecutive semesters. The paper examines the structure of this course and our assessment goals.

The Case for Energy Education

People often assume that energy will always exist in forms and quantities inexpensive enough to satisfy personal uses. Today, it seems there is enough gas at the pumps so cars can have full tanks, electricity is almost always there to power lights and computers, and thermostats can be set to just about any comfortable temperature. Therefore, little thought is given to the abundance of these resources or the likelihood of these resources being available in the years to come. Industrialized society takes energy for granted.1,2,3,4,5 However, just under the surface lies a great need for people to be informed about energy and its uses, from politicians who govern our energy industry to the average consumer6.

Desperately needed are educational initiatives with a balance of technical and social content. This need for energy education is the fundamental motivation for the energy awareness efforts at Baylor University. According to the National Energy Policy7, the U. S. must have between 1,300 and 1,900 new electricity generation plants in place to meet the projected 45% increase in electrical demand by the year 2020. Economic and political policies often reflect the unspoken assumption that the United States will be able to continually increase its reliance on natural resources and more importantly, energy resources. On May 2, 2007, a local newspaper editor took time to remind the public of the energy history of the United States in the past few decades8.

Van Treuren, K., & Gravagne, I. (2008, June), Energy Awareness Efforts At Baylor University Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3885

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