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Four Research Projects, One "Green" Theme

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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

Sustainability in AEC and AEC Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.624.1 - 13.624.9



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Paper Authors

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Edmond Saliklis California Polytechnic State University

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

Four Research Projects, One “Green” Theme


The purpose of this paper is to suggest ways that faculty can motivate students to do research through the timely and important issue of sustainable or “green” materials in architectural engineering. This paper will briefly describe four research projects undertaken by seniors in our architectural engineering department. Following these descriptions will be a series of pros and cons that the author has detected while mentoring these projects. Suggestions for best practices will then be presented as well as a discussion of how we assessed these projects. Finally, one of the research projects will be highlighted, with the goal of demonstrating how the student was motivated, and how the project was guided.

The “Green” Motivator

Green projects can spur student interest in doing research. Several recent studies found that the green theme was an excellent motivator to encourage undergraduates to undertake a research project. For example, Jahan 1 found that a green study was a launching point to inspire students to do research and for some, to ultimately pursue advanced degrees. Flynn et al. 2 have incorporated green research aspects into many of their classes because of the intense student enthusiasm for the subject.

Students can benefit from such a research experience in several ways. Today’s students often feel a need to incorporate sustainability issues into their lives, and they do so with admirable passion. At our university, students are beginning to see sustainability as an over-arching academic theme, not one assigned to a typical classroom slot. The university’s administrators are even considering requiring a sustainability component as a requirement for graduation. Sustainability is often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 3 The president of our university recently publicly signed an action plan committing our campus to sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching and practice, known as the Talloires Declaration. 4

Thus, a green research project can inspire some students in more ways than traditional research, because it aligns itself with some of their core beliefs and it helps them distinguish themselves at the university. Hamilton 5 has argued that incorporating such key inspirational opportunities into the undergraduate experience is critical to the successful preparation of lifelong learners. And if the project touches the students’ core beliefs, the project becomes personalized. Researchers have shown that having personalized goals in undergraduate research is a key implementation strategy that leads to successful projects 6.

Saliklis, E. (2008, June), Four Research Projects, One "Green" Theme Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3374

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