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Including Design For Environment Tools In An Undergraduate Design Class

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.329.1 - 3.329.6



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Paper Authors

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John P. Leschke

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Susan Carlson-Skalak

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

Session 1608

Including Design for Environment Tools in an Undergraduate Design Class

Susan Carlson-Skalak and John P. Leschke Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering McIntire School of Commerce University of Virginia


How do you get students thinking about the impact of product design on the environment? Usually, we think of including Design for Environment (DFE) as one of the tools in the Design for X (DFX) section of a design course. Rather than apply DFE ideas after the conceptual design is developed, we are focusing on making the students aware of how environmental impacts and sustainability fit into a corporation’s culture through research and development (R&D), product development and manufacturing. We start this process by educating the students on the impact of the industrial revolution on the earth, then discuss the environmental impact of products through the use of streamlined life cycle assessment (SLCA). As part of learning the SLCA approach, we introduce a case study of the impact and redesign of a videocassette. Finally, we have the students put their newfound skills to work in a design exercise.


According to David Orr, “One of the principal tasks of education in the coming century is to foster ecological design intelligence.”[1] We decided to undertake this challenge in one of the core courses of a new university minor in Technology Management and Policy. [2] This core course, Product and Technology Life Cycle, [3] is open to all third and fourth year undergraduate students, but the class has primarily consisted of a majority of engineers and a number of commerce students. This course encompasses the “technology life cycle” which we break down into four modules: Research and Development (Basic and, Applied), Product Development, Commercialization, and Product Retirement and Revitalization. This course has several goals: x introduce non-engineers to technology and process and product development in a corporate setting, x introduce engineers to the decision making process, especially in an economic context, x introduce the ideas of industrial ecology and design for environment into the life cycle framework, x develop open-ended problem solving and design skills, and x develop written and oral presentation skills. Throughout the course, we emphasize the concept of developing technologies and products and making decisions within a resource-constrained environment.

The Technology and Product Life Cycle course meets twice a week for 75 minutes. Technical concepts are taught by an engineering professor and economic decision-making tools are taught by a commerce professor. Both professors attend all classes. At the beginning of the semester,

Leschke, J. P., & Carlson-Skalak, S. (1998, June), Including Design For Environment Tools In An Undergraduate Design Class Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7181

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