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Engineering Study Abroad Program on Sustainable Infrastructure

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Global Studies, Initiatives, and Study Abroad Programs

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.559.1 - 25.559.8



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Paper Authors


Steven J. Burian University of Utah

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Steven J. Burian is an Associate Professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Utah, where he teaches and conducts research in the areas of water resources, energy, and sustainability. He earned a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Notre Dame and a M.S.E. in environmental engineering and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Alabama. Burian is active in numerous professional societies including the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Meteorological Society (AMS), American Water Resources Association (AWRA), Water Environment Federation (WEF), American Geophysical Union (AGU), and American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE). He is a registered Professional Engineer in Utah.

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Pedro Romero University of Utah

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Pedro Romero is Associate Professor of civil engineering.

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Using a Study Abroad Program to Teach Sustainable Infrastructure to a Multidisciplinary Student CohortThe issues facing the engineering community have become more and more complex. Theseissues include topics such as how to develop and maintain a sustainable infrastructure and how toapproach a problem using a multi-disciplinary approach.A method to address such topics is being introduced at the University of ____ under a new studyabroad program on the topic of sustainable infrastructure. The program, hosted by the Civil andEnvironmental Engineering Department and supported by the Environmental Studies Program, isbeing designed to specifically integrate engineering and non-engineering students to approachsustainable infrastructure planning, design, construction, and operation from a multi-disciplinaryperspective. The goal of the class is to provide engineers and non-engineers the necessary broadunderstanding of infrastructure from a systems perspective and enable them to develop moresustainable solutions. In order to accomplish this goal, actual examples were sought and foundin Costa Rica where the class will be taught during Summer 2012.Costa Rica is an ideal location for this topic because of several unique characteristics of thecountry’s approach to sustainable infrastructure and development. From an engineering andinfrastructure perspective, Costa Rica is a proponent of sustainable development incorporatingsustainable civil infrastructure systems for transportation, energy production, and water services.Costa Rica also has a national policy perspective rooted in sustainability with a national mandateto seek sustainable solutions and support the strong ecotourism industry. The course learningobjectives include being able to consider sustainability in other cultures, explain concepts ofinfrastructure sustainability and resiliency, calculate demand on infrastructure systems, computeinfrastructure performance metrics, assess functionality, capacity, and maintainability ofinfrastructure components and systems, apply systems thinking and triple bottom line accountingto evaluate projects, and recommend and implement sustainable and resilient infrastructuresolutions. These objectives will be achieved through an organized progression of topics andactivities that are specifically coordinated with the sites chosen for study abroad. The studentswill travel with two civil engineering professors to specially selected destinations to immersethemselves and actually experience sustainable infrastructure issues. At the end of the class, thestudents will use their experience to report on their findings and apply their knowledge to localissues.The paper will provide a description of the course objectives, content, activities, and assessmentsused for the sustainable infrastructure course. The focus will be how the pedagogy is coordinatedwith the international experience. The paper and conference presentation will provide assessmentof (1) the multi-disciplinary interaction with special focus on the team project and (2) the valueof the international experience to enhance the student learning of sustainable infrastructure.

Burian, S. J., & Romero, P. (2012, June), Engineering Study Abroad Program on Sustainable Infrastructure Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21316

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