Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
In light of changing climate, increasing global population, and the need to repair or replace aging and deteriorating infrastructure, sustainability and life-cycle engineering have become fundamental areas of knowledge that must be addressed within a civil engineering curriculum. Recent revisions to the ABET criteria for civil engineering programs also require the programs prepare graduates to "include principles of sustainability in design." While some civil engineering programs have responded to this requirement by requiring a course in sustainability, many programs incorporate sustainability principles across their curriculum. In this diffused approach to teaching sustainability, it is important to expose students to foundational concepts in sustainability early in their education. Courses in life cycle assessment (LCA), if offered, typically occur at the end of a bachelor of science program or as part of graduate studies. By offering this module in a class primarily taken by first-semester engineering students, the students are equipped with an analytical framework for sustainability that can be employed in any context.
This paper describes how concepts of LCA can be incorporated into an introduction to engineering class for first-year engineering students. The module as described was refined over time—it has been offered as an introduction to engineering module four times by two separate instructors. The module is easily adoptable by any instructor and can be tweaked to fit a particular focus area.
This project-based, seven-week, course module was developed in partnership with the campus sustainability office. During the first few weeks, students learn the basics of product life cycles, setting goals and scope, working in teams using the Agile framework, and performing simple qualitative and quantitative analyses required for LCA. Subsequently, the campus sustainability office acts as a “client” and provides descriptions of a number of current campus issues for students to evaluate using LCA during the latter part of the module. The teams work to develop recommendations for these issues based on LCA principles and present their recommendations to the sustainability office staff orally and in a written report. Assessments of student learning after completing the module show an increased understanding of general sustainability issues and increased knowledge of how engineering decisions can have significant impact on the life cycle impacts of engineering projects.
Roth, M., & Malladi, H. (2020, June), Incorporating Life Cycle Assessment in an Introduction to Engineering Course Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34809
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