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Environmental Sustainability In Undergraduate Engineering Education

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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

12.685.1 - 12.685.10



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Paper Authors

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William Gaughran University of Limerick


Stephen Burke University of Limerick

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Stephen Burke graduated from the University of Limerick with a 1st Honours in Technology Education in 2002. He has served for two years as a teaching assistant in UL where he has been involved in the delivery of courses on environmental sustainability and parametric modelling. He is currently in the final stages of completing a research PhD in environmental sustainability strategies for SMEs

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Sonya Quinn University of Limerick

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Sonya Quinn graduated with first class honours from the University of Limerick in 2005 in Technology Education. She is currently a researcher in environmental sustainability in the University of Limerick undertaking a Masters by research in the area of sustainability and second level schools in Ireland. Sonya is also a tutor in the Explore Engineering Summer Camp, which is run as an introduction to engineering programme in the University of Limerick and is a consultant tutor in the technology learning centre.

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

Environmental Sustainability in Undergraduate Engineering Education


There is hardly any industry sector in which the management of environmental sustainability is not of significant relevance. It is unfortunate that engineering and cognate areas of education has, for the most part ignored these vital issues. It is therefore, essential that all facets of engineering, design and manufacturing education take action on environmental sustainability concerns through appropriate strategies. This paper describes how, (a) an EU educational intervention has been devised to help promote environmental sustainability in engineering (and other); Small to Medium sized Industries (SMEs), as well as making the tutorials available to university undergraduate programs in selected Universities across the EU, and (b) the design and implementation of an undergraduate module entitled “Design for Environmental Sustainability”, in an Irish University. The EU intervention tutorials have been used to provide background support for the module. The module has been devised and implemented in several engineering and cognate programmes, which include engineering, product design, and technology teacher disciplines, to form a mixed cohort of students.

In the context of engineering education this paper discusses the strategies used and the initial impact, of (i) the introductory program intended for SMEs and Universities, and (ii) the introduction and evaluation of the undergraduate environmental sustainability module. Key words/Phrases: Environmental Sustainability, pedagogical implications and evaluation.

1 The EU Interregional modules

The self-paced intervention is a suite of PowerPoint modules, which were designed as a result of collaboration, between four regions of the EU representing industrial development agencies and Universities in each of four countries. These included Ireland, Greece, Germany and Finland. The EU funded research project was entitled Towards a Sustainable Future - Design Quality and Environment (DQE). As part of SME intervention, an intensive study revealed where knowledge deficits existed in SMEs. As a result, it was decided to design a suite of tutorial modules, which would help redress this deficit. Some of the modules, according to the strengths of the Academics involved, would be developed in all four regions and would combine to comprise the complete suite. Figure 1 shows a sample slide, on product life cycle management. All the PowerPoint presentations have appropriate teaching notes, explanations and further references attached. While the tutorials were initially designed for presentation use by expert tutors, it was decided that they could also be used as self-paced tutorials by SME personnel and undergraduate students.

It was decided that these would be tested initially in the home universities of the design team, and would later be made available to other registered EU universities, as well as SMEs. The trials were conducted under a range of agreed criteria, in all of the Universities concerned. Peer evaluation was undertaken first in each of the four EU regions. Resulting from the peer evaluation, design modifications were made to cater for the clarity and accuracy of the material, the achievement of the stated objectives, and to determine how the modules might fit together as well as how they might be sequenced. All the tutorials in Table 1 are in the agreed sequence, with the exception of Tutorial 11 - What is DQE?, as this was compiled after all the others. This tutorial would therefore move to the front (see Table 1)

Gaughran, W., & Burke, S., & Quinn, S. (2007, June), Environmental Sustainability In Undergraduate Engineering Education Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2596

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