June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.763.1 - 11.763.8
Infusing the Materials Engineering Curriculum with Sustainability Principles
In order to better prepare our students for the complex, global world outside the confines of the university, we have been making concerted efforts to incorporate sustainability principles (i.e., balance of economics, society, and environment) within the materials engineering curriculum at California Polytechnic (Cal Poly) State University. Many future engineering tasks will require the understanding of complicated interplays of technology with the environment and society. In addition, energy demands and dwindling natural resources have emerged as significant challenges for scientists and engineers. The materials engineer has great opportunity to help devise sustainable solutions through appropriate materials selection and processing, and our faculty has been trying to convey such ideas and skills to our students.
Many different sustainability activities and assignments have been woven into several of our materials engineering courses. Some activities are to promote awareness and to give motivation for our students to use their engineering skills for the betterment of society and the planet. Pertinent articles from popular media sources have been used as the basis for reflection exercises and to stimulate student discussions. A freshmen design course has been developed to highlight sustainability through service learning. In addition, we have used software tools (CES Eco- selector) to quantitatively assess the environmental impact due to particular materials selection and processing techniques. Several different pedagogical techniques have been employed for these different activities.
BACKGROUND: revising our curriculum
The engineer for the year 20201 has been proposed to be somewhat different from the current engineering student. ABET also requires programs to train students to solve problems and to design within realistic design constraints that include sustainability2. The Brundtland Commission has defined sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”3 Accordingly, our materials engineering curriculum at Cal Poly is currently being revised to nurture more global, effective materials engineers for the future. Our department website4 highlights our commitment to sustainability (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Cal Poly Materials Engineering department website4 displays the sustainability theme in the curriculum.
Chen, K., & Vanasupa, L., & London, B., & Savage, R. (2006, June), Infusing The Materials Engineering Curriculum With Sustainability Principles Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/214
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