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Increasing Student Involvement in a Sustainability Course

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

New Concepts for Alternative Energy Courses and Concepts

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.767.1 - 25.767.8



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Paper Authors


Brandon S. Field University of Southern Indiana

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Brandon Field teaches in the thermal fluids area of mechanical engineering at the University of Southern Indiana, Evansville.

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Zane W. Mitchell Jr. University of Southern Indiana

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Increasing Student Involvement in a Sustainability CourseAbstractStudent projects that have been included in an engineering course for the past two years are describedin this paper. It is a new course, which is an elective in the engineering and technology programs, titled"Energy Systems and Sustainable Design." The course includes material on the conversion of all formsof energy to electricity, as well as the sustainable design of buildings. For the energy systems portion of the course the lecture material covers the variousexperimental and existing technologies. Reading assignments from scholarly or trade journals areassigned that relate to the topics and provide an engineering perspective to the (sometimescontroversial) topics of electrical power generation. To conclude the energy portion of the course, thestudents are asked to write a report on an energy conversion technology of their choice. The lectures for the sustainable design portion of the course are based around the LEEDprinciples (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for building design and construction. Atest based on the LEED Green Associate exam is given, and the students should be able to pass thenational US Green Building Council exam which is the first step for professional certification as aLEED-AP. The conclusion of the course is a final project that has involved both the energy usage andsustainability aspects of buildings on campus. In this way, the students need to synthesize the twoportions of the course to develop the final project, and they are also being involved in energy-savingpractices throughout the local campus community. The first year the course was taught, the final projects involved identifying and preparing thesubmittals for utility rebates based on two of the construction projects on campus. The first was theBusiness and Engineering Center, which was a new construction that houses the College of Businessand the Engineering Department. The second was the University Center Expansion, which was arenovation of one of the old buildings to expand the student union. Both of these construction projectsincluded practices that qualified for rebates from the local electric utility. The students first identifiedthe qualifying technologies and then used blueprints and visited the machine rooms of the buildings toconfirm all the installations. As part of the final report, they were required to have filled out all theneeded paperwork that would be filed to apply for the rebates. The second year of the course, two different projects were selected. The first project involveddesigning a way to attach electrical capture devices on the exercise equipment at the campus fitnesscenter. Different types of commercially available technology were investigated and the studentsdeveloped the necessary attachment and wiring configurations for implementation, as well as aneconomic estimate for the amount of electricity generated based on an average usage of the exercisemachines. The other project for the second year involved doing an energy audit on the Business andEngineering Center to investigate its energy usage over the first year. This was compared to the designcalculations and calculations made from the original blueprints. This paper will discuss the importance of these projects in the course, especially the emphasison the local energy issues that were brought out. The overall intent of the course, to increase studentawareness of energy and sustainability issues, is also discussed with regard to the project structure.

Field, B. S., & Mitchell, Z. W. (2012, June), Increasing Student Involvement in a Sustainability Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21524

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