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Engineering Design For Sustainability: A Course For Majors And Non Majors

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Sustainability, Service Learning, and Entreprenuership

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.481.1 - 15.481.7



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Paper Authors

author page

Catherine Skokan Colorado School of Mines

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

Engineering Design for Sustainability: A Course for Majors and Non-Majors Abstract

As part of a one-semester international experience for undergraduate students, a lower- division course in engineering design for sustainability was offered. The course participants consisted of majors in engineering, architecture, political science, and economics from numerous universities. This survey course, beyond providing a basic introduction to sustainable development concepts, exposed the students to the challenges of sustainable development from an engineering design perspective. The course objectives were that students would: 1. Be able to define sustainability 2. Identify sustainability issues in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere 3. Apply the engineering design process to sustainable projects 4. Summarize methods to measure sustainability 5. Analyze examples of sustainable and non-sustainable programs. Participants were also exposed to field experiences to observe issues in sustainability. Assessment of the course objectives illustrates the need for cooperation among engineering and other disciplines, such as economics and politics, in the design process for a sustainable society.

Introduction to the Academic Partners

The Institute for Shipboard Education and its educational partner, the University of Virginia, operate the Semester-at-Sea program. The mission of this program is “to educate individuals for leadership, service, and success in shaping our interdependent world.1” The program provides a study-abroad experience in which students and faculty from institutions throughout the world, but primarily from the United States, can compare customs and gain a deeper international perspective. A semester is spent traveling around the world on a ship. Approximately 10 countries are visited during the voyage. While on ship, classes are held and while in port, international observations take place. This ship-board university has approximately 700 students and 35 faculty as well as support staff. The ship has many of the features of a land-based campus: computer center, library, fitness center, medical facilities, as well as classrooms. Classes are offered with credit from the University of Virginia in a wide range of topics such as business and economics, communication, history, environmental science, biology, sociology, literature, the arts, and oceanography. In each course, traditional material is augmented with in-port experiences which illustrate the practical application of that subject This paper will discuss a new class introduced in the Fall 2009 voyage around the world. The course, titled Engineering Design for Sustainability, was offered through the University of Virginia’s Department of Science, Technology and Society (STS) which is housed in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The multidisciplinary STS department “advances understanding of the social and ethical dimensions of science and technology2”. This paper will describe the development of course and its goals, expand on the course syllabus and choice of texts, discuss the in-port field experiences, and summarize the assessment of both the students and the course.

Skokan, C. (2010, June), Engineering Design For Sustainability: A Course For Majors And Non Majors Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15893

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