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Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum: Engineering Sustainable Engineers

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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

Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.809.1 - 25.809.28



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Paper Authors


Melanie L. Sattler University of Texas, Arlington

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Melanie Sattler serves as an Associate Professor at the University of Texas, Arlington, where she teaches courses and conducts research related to air quality and sustainable energy. Her research has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Luminant Power, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. She has published more than 60 peer-reviewed papers and conference proceedings. In 2010, she received UT, Arlington's Lockheed Martin Award for Excellence in Engineering Teaching. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Texas.

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Victoria C. P. Chen University of Texas, Arlington

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Brian H. Dennis University of Texas, Arlington

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Stephen P. Mattingly University of Texas, Arlington Orcid 16x16

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K.J. Rogers University of Texas, Arlington


Yvette Pearson Weatherton University of Texas, Arlington Orcid 16x16

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Yvette Pearson Weatherton received her Ph.D. in engineering and applied science (environmental engineering) from the University of New Orleans in 2000. She is currently a Senior Lecturer and Associate Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Texas, Arlington, and is a registered Professional Engineer in Louisiana. Pearson Weatherton has served (and continues to serve) as PI or Co-PI on several projects funded by the National Science Foundation, including "Engineering Sustainable Engineers," which is the focus of this paper.

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Madhu Rani University of Texas, Arlington

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Ketwalee Kositkanawuth

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Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum: Engineering Sustainable EngineersEngineering Sustainable Engineers is a program designed to improve student knowledge of andcompetency in addressing sustainability issues in engineering design and problem solving. Three (3)engineering departments at The University of XXXX – Civil (CE), Industrial (IE), and MechanicalEngineering (ME) – are collaborating to infuse their curricula with sustainability concepts of varyingdegrees of complexity from the freshman through the senior year. The expected outcomes of the projectare to (1) increase students’ knowledge of sustainability concepts, (2) increase students’ ability to analyzeproject components for sustainability, (3) increase students’ ability to propose mitigation strategies forreducing negative impacts and (4) provide opportunities for students to apply their knowledge ofsustainability to real-world projects and problems.These outcomes are being achieved through three (3) key program elements: • Sustainability Learning Modules. 12 cross-cutting and targeted sustainability modules have been developed for integration into 17 traditional engineering courses. These courses include Introduction to Engineering (a course that is required for all engineering freshmen), required sophomore/junior level CE, IE, and ME courses and Senior Project. The modules are complete faculty-ready “grab-and-go” curricular units that include objectives, PowerPoint lecture slides, reading materials, discussion questions/other active learning activities, homework problems, and assessment questions. • Multidisciplinary Senior Design Project. The team implemented a multi-disciplinary senior design project focusing on sustainability. Students from all three departments collaborated to design a biodiesel production refinery for the campus. • Quality Sustainable Engineering Internship. The project team designed and implemented a “Quality Sustainable Engineering Internship Checklist” to identify companies with exemplary sustainable engineering design practice.With repeated exposure to sustainability concepts, students will be conditioned to consider sustainabilityas an integral part of design, and will carry this forward into their careers.Surveys were used to assess whether program objectives and outcomes were achieved. For all modules,at least 50% of students were “Strongly Confident” or “Confident” of their ability to address each objective,with the exception of two objectives for the “Life Cycle Sustainability Economics” module, and oneobjective for “Waste as a Resource”. For each module, 75% of students were confident or stronglyconfident of their ability, on average, to meet the objectives, with the exception of the “Life CycleSustainability Economics” module, where 60% of students were confident.Students participating in the multidisciplinary design project were surveyed regarding the multidisciplinaryteam experience to determine whether the project increased their knowledge of and competency inaddressing sustainability issues in engineering design. Students agreed, from a small to a great extent,that the sustainable engineering design project increased their ability to explain sustainability concepts,recognize impacts of engineering designs on sustainability, mitigate potential negative impacts, andevaluate potential engineering solutions based on sustainability. Students also agreed that the designproject would make them more likely to consider sustainable design options in their future career.Survey responses show that the students feel that the internships increased their ability to explainsustainability concepts, recognize impacts of engineering projects on sustainability, and identify mitigationstrategies for reducing negative impacts on sustainability. The internships also increased their ability towork effectively in multidisciplinary teams. Particularly encouraging are the responses that students willbe more likely to consider sustainable design options in their future career.

Sattler, M. L., & Chen, V. C. P., & Dennis, B. H., & Mattingly, S. P., & Rogers, K., & Pearson Weatherton, Y., & Rani, M., & Kositkanawuth, K. (2012, June), Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum: Engineering Sustainable Engineers Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21566

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