June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Engineering and Public Policy
11.742.1 - 11.742.16
Incorporating Public Policy into an Engineering Course: Voluntary Programs for Mobile Source Emission Reductions 1. Introduction
A course in air pollution control engineering offers many opportunities to incorporate analysis of public policy because federal and state environmental laws affect many aspects of an engineer’s work in ameliorating air pollution. Mastering landmark command-and-control legislation such as the Clean Air Act has traditionally been a part of air pollution control engineering courses. Voluntary programs, however, are gaining importance as innovative tools to reduce emissions beyond what can be achieved through traditional regulatory control strategies and deserve space on the syllabus. I therefore incorporated voluntary programs into an air pollution control engineering course through a course project that focused on mobile source emissions. Six of the eight students enrolled in the course were third and fourth year mechanical engineering students. Two graduate students from other engineering schools were also enrolled.
To formulate my ideas for the project, I collaborated with staff at the City of Chicago Department of the Environment, the Region 5 EPA office, and EPA headquarters. The resulting project had two elements. Both originally focused on Pilsen, a Chicago neighborhood that is both a trucking hub and a population center for working class families. As part of the first element, students assumed the role of fleet managers of small trucking firms in Pilsen seeking to join EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership1, a voluntary program aimed at reducing emissions from heavy duty diesel vehicles. Students assessed emissions reductions and economic impacts that would result from the company’s membership in the program. They used EPA’s Freight Logistics Environmental and Energy Tracking (FLEET) model, an Excel-based tool, for these calculations and provided feedback to EPA on the tool’s ease of use. The second element was a student investigation of anti-idling policies for school buses in Pilsen. These policies would reduce school childrens’ exposure to diesel exhaust and save cash-strapped school districts money. The eight students enrolled in the course divided into three groups. Two groups worked on the first element and one worked on the second. At the end of the semester, the students presented their work at the regional EPA office for an audience of EPA and City of Chicago staff. The next section describes the two elements of the project in greater detail. The balance of the paper discusses the students’ results, the grading methodology, and the post-project assessment.
2. Project Description
To introduce the project to the class, I lectured briefly on the SmartWay Partnership and gave the following four goals for student participation in the project.
1. Gain insight into a voluntary emission control program 2. Become familiar with mobile source control technologies 3. Calculate emissions reductions and economic impacts from involvement in a voluntary program 4. Communicate project results effectively
Dunn, J. (2006, June), Incorporating Public Policy Into An Engineering Course: Voluntary Programs For Mobile Source Emission Reductions Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--302
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