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Integration of a Real-Time Water and Weather Monitoring System into a Hydrology Course

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Involving Undergraduates in Research

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.783.1 - 23.783.12



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Paper Authors


Randel L. Dymond Virginia Tech

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Dr. Randy Dymond is a professional engineer and an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Coordinator of the Land Development Design Initiative (LDDI) at Virginia Tech, a consortium of 30 sponsoring companies and 350+ professional members interested in improving the educational component of civil engineers in the land development area and increasing practitioner/student interaction. After obtaining degrees from Bucknell and Penn State, Dr. Dymond has more than 30 years of experience in civil and environmental engineering instruction, research, consulting, and software development. He has taught at Penn State, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and has been at Virginia Tech for fifteen years. Dr. Dymond has published more than 50 refereed journal articles and proceedings papers, and been the principal or co-principal investigator for more than 110 research proposals from many diverse funding agencies. His research areas include urban storm water modeling, low impact development, watershed and floodplain management, and sustainable land development. He teaches classes in GIS, land development, and water resources and has won numerous teaching awards, as well as a second place award in the 2009 NCEES Engineering Competition for Connecting Professional Practice and Education. His latest award is the 2010 National James M. Robbins Excellence in Teaching Award from Chi Epsilon.

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Vinod K Lohani Virginia Tech

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Dr. Vinod K Lohani is a professor in the Engineering Education Department and an adjunct faculty in the Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. His research interests are in the areas of sustainability, computer-supported research and learning systems, hydrology, and water resources. In a major ($1M+, NSF) curriculum reform and engineering education research project from 2004 to 2009, he led a team of engineering and education faculty to reform engineering curriculum of an engineering department (Biological Systems Engineering) using Jerome Bruner’s spiral curriculum theory. Currently, Dr. Lohani leads an NSF/REU site on “interdisciplinary water sciences and engineering” which has already graduated 45 undergraduate researchers since 2007. He also leads an NSF/TUES type I project in which a real-time environmental monitoring lab is being integrated into a freshman engineering course, a senior-level Hydrology course at Virginia Tech, and a couple of courses at Virginia Western Community College, Roanoke for enhancing water sustainability education. He is a member of ASCE and ASEE and has published 65+ refereed publications.

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Daniel S Brogan Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Daniel S. Brogan is a doctoral student in the department of Engineering Education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He completed his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering at the University of New Hampshire in 2001 and 2004, respectively. His current research interests include remote sensing systems and the use of platform independent websites and mobile devices for educating students about environmental issues. He previously developed data processing algorithms for multi-beam sonar systems used in ocean mapping. During his time at the University of New Hampshire, he taught several junior and senior-level courses in the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Engineering Technology programs covering topics such as control systems, digital signal processing and electromagnetics.

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Manuel Alejandro Martinez Virginia Tech

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Manuel A. Martinez is a sophomore at Virginia Tech majoring in Chemical Engineering. He hopes to pursue a career in the chemical industry with a focus on monitoring chemical impacts on environmental health. He participated in the summer 2012 NSF REU Program, Water Sciences and Engineering, as a water quality monitoring technician in the LEWAS Lab. Based on his performance in this program, he was brought on as a student member of the lab, where he is currently working as a research assistant.

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Integration of a Real-Time Water and Weather Monitoring System into a HydrologyCourseThis paper will discuss the authors’ experiences in integrating a real-time water and weathermonitoring lab, called the LabVIEW Enabled Watershed Assessment System (LEWAS), into asenior level hydrology course at a large public university. LEWAS uniquely integratesLabVIEW’s data acquisition capability with the water and weather hardware. Specifically, itincludes a Hydrolab sonde which collects water quality data, an acoustic doppler flow meterwhich measures flow and stage of the stream, and a weather data collection station at a creekthat flows through the campus.The goal is to enhance student learning by incorporating LEWAS-based hands-on modules.Three learning modules were developed and implemented: (i) Storm Characteristics Module:Data collected at the outdoor site of LEWAS, were used to discuss the rainfall-runoffrelationship in a small urbanized watershed. Analysis tasks for a particular stormincluded determining the baseflow, the volume of rainfall and runoff, and the runoffcoefficient. (ii) Land Cover-Water Quality Correlation Module: LEWAS’ capability allowsstudents to learn about the relationship between land cover and water quality based onthe constituents being measured. Detailed digitized land cover and storm quantity andquality data were analyzed to show how water quality and land cover are related. Thismodule allowed students to critically think about the relationship of land cover and waterquality through the use of local, long-term data. (iii) Watershed Wiki Module: LEWASwas employed to motivate students about the importance of monitoring our sustainableresources. Two of the most important advantages of LEWAS are that it is monitoringthe watershed in which the classroom is located, and that the data is web-accessible.This module entailed assigning teams of students throughout the semester to visit theoutlet monitoring site and write daily reports on the class Wiki about the unit’sperformance and the monitoring results. The groups acted as the watershedassessment team for the assigned week, preparing data tables and graphs for weather,flow, and water quality.Student perceptions are documented using pre-and post-test survey instruments, andlessons learned are documented. This project is supported under the NSF TransformingUndergraduate Education in STEM (TUES) Program.

Dymond, R. L., & Lohani, V. K., & Brogan, D. S., & Martinez, M. A. (2013, June), Integration of a Real-Time Water and Weather Monitoring System into a Hydrology Course Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19797

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