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Engineering Sustainability?!

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Sustainability & Environmental Issues

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.654.1 - 12.654.14



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Paper Authors


Roger Hadgraft The University of Melbourne

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ROGER HADGRAFT is Director of the Engineering Learning Unit in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Melbourne. He has been working on problem-based learning issues since 1991 and has implemented significant curriculum change using project-based learning at both Monash and RMIT Universities. He is a civil engineer with interests in hydrologic modelling, knowledge management and engineering education. He has recently moved to the University of Melbourne to assist in the implementation of the Melbourne Model.

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Jenni Goricanec RMIT University

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Jenni Goricanec has 25+ years of experience in telecommunications. She is completing a PhD on "A Philosophy of Engineering Practice for the 21st century, including sustainable futures".

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

Engineering Sustainability?!


Our world faces many challenges – climate change, drought, flooding, poverty, urban slums, water shortages, severe pollution, substance abuse, homelessness, profligate resource use, megacities, peak oil, land salinity, AIDS, malaria, and so on. It is already acknowledged that we are consuming the earth’s resources faster than natural systems can recycle them 1 and that we are “putting such a strain on the natural functions of the Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted” 2.

Also, scientists now recognise that we are seeing human-induced climate change 3 and even the economists are starting to recognise the risks: “The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change presents very serious global risks, and it demands an urgent global response” 4.

The further industrialisation of China, India and elsewhere is creating huge demands on already stretched ecosystems. Much of this industrialisation is to feed the affluent nations’ needs for consumer goods, quite apart from the growing consuming class in the developing world 5.

It is clear that the sorts of problems facing the globe will need creative engineering solutions during this century. If this is the case, what sorts of engineers do we need to be educating for the 21st century? What capabilities will they need? What will be their focus? As this paper is for an ASEE conference, we have concentrated our attention on engineering practitioners but we provide an example from broader professional education in the Master of Sustainable Practice.

Reviews of Engineering Education The last ten years has seen a series of reviews of engineering education. From these reviews has come an outcomes focus in engineering accreditation. The reviews continue to describe engineers as primarily technical problem solvers, e.g. the National Academy of Engineering’s “Engineer of 2020” 6: • strong analytical skills (science, mathematics, discovery and design), • practical ingenuity, creativity, • communication, business and management, • leadership, high ethical standards, professionalism, • dynamism, agility, resilience, flexibility, • lifelong learners.

Engineers Australia lists its required graduate attributes as follows 7 – the emphasis is ours: a) ability to apply knowledge of basic science and engineering fundamentals; b) ability to communicate effectively, not only with engineers but also with the community at large; c) in-depth technical competence in at least one engineering discipline; d) ability to undertake problem identification, formulation and solution; e) ability to utilise a systems approach to design and operational performance;

Hadgraft, R., & Goricanec, J. (2007, June), Engineering Sustainability?! Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2352

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