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Introducing And Stimulating Sustainable Engineering In First Year Civil Engineering Students

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Assessment and Curriculum Development

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.800.1 - 14.800.15

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Paper Authors


Tom Bramald Newcastle University

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Tom Bramald is the Development Officer for Newcastle University's School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences. He is module leader for the first year module, Sustainable Solutions in Civil Engineering.

The Development Officer role has a wide variety of responsibilities including schools and industrial outreach and engagement, teaching, and significant in-reach activity. Internally, it involves developing and maintaining a large number of relationships with academics, researchers, support staff, university services and students. Externally, he works with schools (students and teachers), professional & trade bodies and small, medium and large companies.

A former Marine Construction Surveyor, he has been with the university for five years.

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Sean Wilkinson Newcastle University

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Dr Sean Wilkinson is a Senior Lecturer in Structural Engineering at Newcastle University's School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences. He is the degree programme director for the school's suite of MEng and BEng degree programmes in Civil and Civil & Structural Engineering.

His main interests lie in structural design, particularly in the context of Earthquake Engineering and Extreme Loadings.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Introducing and stimulating sustainable engineering in first year Civil Engineering students


To support a sustainable engineering agenda, three years ago Newcastle University (UK) introduced a new first year study module titled Sustainable Solutions in Civil Engineering. There were several original aims for the module: introduce sustainability in the context of civil engineering; act as a catalyst for sustainable thinking in studies beyond first year; and present an enthusiastic, “big picture” of civil engineering that would complement the technically intense first year modules.

While the original aims of the module have remained, the mechanism of delivery and assessment has been refined each year and the module’s content has been extended to adopt various sustainability literature including papers from professional bodies and learned societies. In the module’s current form, engineering, academic and transferable skills are all introduced, practiced and assessed, four different forms of assessment are used, three different teaching environments attended, and the module leader is supported by a variety of staff including academics, guest lecturers from industry and construction site managers and operatives.

Senior Academic staff have shown considerable support for the module and it was complimented by a professional accreditation visit that took place in the year of the module’s first outing. The students have found the module interesting, enjoyable and well delivered although they have also found its workload light compared to other first year study modules.

This paper presents the module as an example of how to engage first year Civil Engineering students in thinking sustainably. It will describe the successes and deficiencies of the module, how the module is being incorporated into the students’ education within and beyond the first year of study and, finally, what the future of first year sustainable engineering is following a rebuilding of Newcastle’s Civil Engineering programmes.

Bramald, T., & Wilkinson, S. (2009, June), Introducing And Stimulating Sustainable Engineering In First Year Civil Engineering Students Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.

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