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Integrating Writing to Teach Engineered Environmental Systems Design

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Environmental Engineering Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

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Paper Authors


Veera Gnaneswar Gude P.E. Mississippi State University

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Veera Gnaneswar Gude is a faculty member of civil and environmental engineering department at Mississippi State University. He has degrees in chemical (B.S.) and environmental engineering (M.S., Ph.D.) disciplines with over 10 years of academic, industrial, and research experiences on various chemical and environmental engineering projects. He is a licensed professional engineer and a board certified environmental engineer. His passion for teaching continues for over 10 years since his graduate school. He has been active with ASEE and educational research for over 10 years. He is particularly interested in enhancing critical thinking skills among civil engineering students through various educational approaches. His research interests include water and wastewater treatment, desalination, and algal biofuels.

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Writing in engineering courses provides a mechanism for processing scientific information related to an engineering issue or problem and synthesize sound solutions through a descriptive narrative often including sound engineering judgement or justifications, outstanding contributions and key conclusions. Some critical findings and contributions may not be recognized unless they are presented through a formal writing narrative. On the other hand, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has stipulated the engineering education outcomes as (f) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility; (g) an ability to communicate effectively; (h) The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context; (i) A recognition of the need for and an ability to engage in life-long learning, and (j) Knowledge of contemporary issues. These outcomes are hard to achieve in a traditional compartmentalized engineering curriculum. These intangible ABET outcomes can be better accomplished by providing writing assignments to engineering students.

In our civil engineering senior design elective course, CE 4883-6883 Engineered Environmental Systems at Mississippi State University, we have incorporated various types of writing exercises such as informal writing, free writing, exploratory writing, formal writing (project report), and reflective writing to enhance student learning of the subject matter. Informal writing involved a critical review of different stormwater pollution management issues and current best management practices and a comparison of the alternatives. Free writing was given in class to promote free thinking and thinking through writing. Exploratory writing exercise involved a topical discussion of stormwater treatment process. A formal writing exercise was given in the form of a stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) assignment which included a peer–review session prior to final grading. A reflective writing exercise was included to summarize learning experiences through classroom and writing activities throughout the semester to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses and accomplishments and pitfalls and areas/topics for future development.

Student learning experiences and the effectiveness of writing exercises were discussed. The benefits of writing exercises were evaluated through the ABET outcomes and a survey and evaluation of students’ performance throughout the semester. Results from this preliminary study suggested the need for more structured writing assignments and detailed analysis and assessment /evaluation process for identifying the effectiveness of writing exercises for developing critical thinking skills and for achieving ABET outcomes.

Gude, V. G. (2017, June), Integrating Writing to Teach Engineered Environmental Systems Design Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28562

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