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Incorporating Sustainability and Resiliency Content into the Civil Engineering Undergraduate Curriculum

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: Sustainability

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NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Bhaskar Chittoori P.E. Boise State University

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Dr. Bhaskar Chittoori joined the faculty of the Department of Civil Engineering at Boise State University in the fall of 2013. He is the director of the Sustainable and Resilient Geotechnical Engineering (SuRGE) Research Laboratory. His research focusses on solving complex geomechanics issues related to problematic clayey soils via experimental and numerical modeling studies. Some of his research focus includes, microbiological and chemical modification of soils, advanced soil testing & interpretation, and finite element modeling of soil systems. He also conducts research on sustainability and resiliency assessments of various civil infrastructure and thrives on educating the next generation of civil engineers prepared to tackle future challenges. He received about two million (PI/Co-PI) in grant funding from various state and federal agencies and has published in noteworthy journals. He is a licensed civil engineer in the states of Texas and Idaho, he is also a member of Chi Epsilon and Tau Beta Pi Honor Societies. He is also the founding president of the ASCE’s Southern Idaho Geo-Institute chapter.

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Noah Salzman Boise State University

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Noah Salzman is an Assistant Professor at Boise State University, where he is a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and IDoTeach, a pre-service STEM teacher preparation program. His work focuses on the transition from pre-college to university engineering programs, how exposure to engineering prior to matriculation affects the experiences of engineering students, and engineering in the K-12 classroom. He has worked as a high school science, mathematics, and engineering and technology teacher, as well as several years of electrical and mechanical engineering design experience as a practicing engineer. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Swarthmore College, his Master's of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts, and a Master's of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Doctorate in Engineering Education from Purdue University.

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Robert Hamilton P.E. Boise State University

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Dr. Hamilton has been with Boise State University since 1995, where he helped found the Civil Engineering Department.

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Debakanta Mishra Oklahoma State University


Sondra M. Miller Boise State University

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Dr. Sondra M. Miller is an associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering within the College of Engineering at Boise State University. Miller earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Iowa. Her educational research interests are focused on methods to attract and retain women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.

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Sustainability and Resiliency (S&R) concepts have risen to prominence in recent years. The concept of incorporating sustainability into civil engineering became popular in the late 1980s during the advent of the construction industry’s first sustainable assessment system for office buildings with more or less equally weighted environmental, economic, and social aspects (Bocchini et al. 2013). The concept of resilience is usually associated with extreme events during the life of civil infrastructure. In the past decade, engineers have achieved a reduction in direct and indirect losses from hazards by incorporating resilience concepts into their work. Teaching these concepts to future civil engineers is of paramount importance. Faculty at several institutions are leveraging stand-alone S&R educational materials such as those available through the Center for Sustainable Engineering, Sustainable Engineering Education Key Resources Repository and other such sources. However, there are several issues with this approach. For example, most civil engineering programs implement sustainability concepts in freshman, sophomore and senior years, which clearly indicates a junior year gap. Students gain sub-discipline specific knowledge during the junior year. It would be prudent to show students how S&R applies in each of these sub-disciplines. Existing piecemeal approaches to incorporating S&R concepts and skills at different points in the curriculum leads to students struggling to develop a coherent understanding of S&R. In addition, many existing efforts are focused on sustainability content with very limited focus on resiliency aspects.

These issues suggest a clear need for improvement. This paper will discuss one such improvement where S&R concepts are permeated into the CE curriculum via Active Learning Modules (ALMs) and Design Tasks (DTs) developed to be incorporated into existing CE courses from freshman to senior year. A total of twelve courses were selected for this purpose and separate ALMs for sustainability and resiliency were developed for each of freshmen through junior-level courses. Design tasks were developed for the senior-level classes with the intent to challenge students to apply the concepts taught in earlier courses. The paper will include descriptions of each of the ALMs and how they are incorporated in each course; moreover, experience gained while developing and implementing these modules will also be shared. To understand the effects of incorporating S&R content into the CE curriculum via these ALMs, a variety of qualitative and quantitative data were collected. Preliminary results show both a strong need for instruction related to S&R concepts and establish the effectiveness of the ALM approach.

Chittoori, B., & Salzman, N., & Hamilton, R., & Mishra, D., & Miller, S. M. (2020, June), Incorporating Sustainability and Resiliency Content into the Civil Engineering Undergraduate Curriculum Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34811

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