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Incorporating Risk and Uncertainty into Undergraduate Environmental Engineering Curricula

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Environmental Engineering Division: Curricula, Criteria, Student Performance, and Growth

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

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Paper Authors


Ran Du P.E. United States Military Academy

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MAJ Du is an U.S. Army Officer in the Medical Service Corps who teaches at the United States Military Academy-West Point. MAJ Du teaches EV301 (Environmental Science for Scientist and Engineers), EV350 (Environmental Engineering Technologies), and EV385 (Introduction to Environmental Engineering). His experiences include a wide spectrum of environmental consultation in the areas of domestic water for the Department of Defense in a 20 state region. Academically, MAJ Du specializes in environmental engineering with research and teaching interests in risk and decision analysis, force health protection, and water system vulnerability.

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Michael A. Butkus U.S. Military Academy

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Michael A. Butkus is a professor of environmental engineering at the U.S. Military Academy. His work has been focused on engineering education and advancements in the field of environmental engineering. His current research interests are in physicochemical treatment processes with recent applications in drinking water disinfection, lead remediation, sustainable environmental engineering systems, and contaminant transport. Butkus is a Board Certified Environmental Engineer and he is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Connecticut.

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Jeffrey A. Starke P.E. U.S. Military Academy

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LTC Jeff Starke is a Military Intelligence officer with command and staff experiences at the battalion, brigade, and joint task force levels. His most recent experiences include operational intelligence assignments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. Academically, LTC Starke specializes in environmental engineering with research and teaching interests in drinking water, public health, and microbial-mediated renewable energy resources. LTC Starke teaches senior-level design courses in Physical and Chemical Processes, Biological Treatment Processes, Solid and Hazardous Waste Technologies, and Environmental Engineering Seminar. LTC Starke has published over 10 peer reviewed research articles and has presented his research at national and international meetings (most recently Portugal). Most recently, he led a service learning project with 5 students to build a latrine-based biogas system in western Uganda for an elementary school of 1400 students. LTC Starke is a registered Professional Engineer (Delaware), member of several professional associations, and is a member of the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors (NCEES).

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In the context of environmental engineering, risk can be defined as a measure of the probability and its adverse effects from human or environmental exposure to physical, chemical, radiological, and biological hazards. Exposure can derive from anthropogenic and natural release of these hazards as well as failure of engineered systems designed to protect human health and the environment. The ABET Environmental Engineering Program Criteria requires that graduates be prepared to include risk considerations in the design of environmental engineering systems. In addition to ABET requirements, the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists’ Body of Knowledge includes an outcome specifically related to risk, reliability and uncertainty. This paper assesses the risk and uncertainty component of selected ABET accredited programs and presents an approach for how these considerations can be embedded in an ABET accredited undergraduate environmental engineering curriculum. Examples of an undergraduate level, Monte Carlo risk model and consideration of risk and uncertainty in upper level environmental engineering design courses are presented.

Du, R., & Butkus, M. A., & Starke, J. A. (2016, June), Incorporating Risk and Uncertainty into Undergraduate Environmental Engineering Curricula Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25657

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