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Incorporation Of Project Based Learning In An Environmental Engineering Course At The Ohio State University

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.310.1 - 4.310.5

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Paper Authors

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Shann Coleman

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Megan Gaberell

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Harold W. Walker

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

Session 2251

Incorporation of Project-Based Learning in an Environmental Engineering Course at The Ohio State University Harold W. Walker, Shann Coleman, Megan Gaberell The Ohio State University


This paper describes the development of “real-life” projects for the course CE610 Analysis of Natural and Polluted Water at The Ohio State University. The overall aim of the projects was to have students work in conjunction with local government and community groups on water quality problems affecting central Ohio. During Autumn Quarter 98 students worked on two independent projects: (1) An assessment of water quality in recreational ponds operated by the City of Columbus, and (2) a survey of the water quality in the Olentangy River for a community group called Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW). To carry out the projects, different teams of three students each were assigned to the following tasks: water sampling, sample analysis, synthesis and report writing, and preparing a final presentation. At the end of the quarter, the students submitted formal reports to the City of Columbus and FLOW describing the results of their projects. The students also gave a formal presentation to FLOW at their monthly public meeting. Incorporation of community-based projects into the curriculum improved open-ended problem solving and team work skills of the students, and also enhanced student understanding of societal impacts/contemporary issues. Feedback on the projects from students, the City of Columbus, and FLOW were all very favorable.

1. Introduction

It is recognized that engineering education today must provide both a sound grounding in engineering fundamentals as well as detailed knowledge of the practical aspects of engineering design and implementation [1, 2]. One way to encourage this shift from simple “analysis” to “synthesis” and “evaluation”, is to incorporate real-world problems in the curriculum, provide the opportunity for students to work in teams, and nurture students’ ability to analyze results and integrate science with practical knowledge.

The learning objectives outlined above are especially important for environmental engineering education. Environmental projects require a multidisciplinary approach and have significant societal implications. To function effectively, an environmental engineer requires both a strong background in state-of-the-art analytical techniques as well as experience using these techniques to evaluate and solve societal problems. One of the most common approaches to accomplishing these educational goals is through the implementation of project-based learning [3, 4].

Coleman, S., & Gaberell, M., & Walker, H. W. (1999, June), Incorporation Of Project Based Learning In An Environmental Engineering Course At The Ohio State University Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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