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Introducing First Year Civil Engineering Students To Sustainability

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Innovations in Civil Engineering Education I

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.803.1 - 15.803.15



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Paper Authors


Angela Bielefeldt University of Colorado, Boulder

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Angela Bielefeldt, Ph.D., P.E., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, & Architectural Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU). She is also the Director of the multi-disciplinary Environmental Engineering Program. Angela has taught the introduction to civil engineering course for first year students at CU since 1997.

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

Introducing First-Year Civil Engineering Students to Sustainability Abstract

As articulated in the Body of Knowledge for Civil Engineering, all civil engineering students should be introduced to the concept of sustainability. The objective of this project was to integrate sustainability concepts into the 1-credit Introduction to Civil Engineering course that first year students are required to take at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Student attitudes about sustainability were evaluated using a written survey and in class questions to which students responded using a Course Response System (clickers). Evidence of student learning on sustainability was acquired via student performance on a homework assignment worth 12% of their overall course grade. Evidence that the students incorporated sustainability into their concept of civil engineering was also collected based on other course assignments. There is some evidence that female and minority students may be more likely to articulate the importance of sustainability in the context of civil engineering, although more research is needed on this topic due to the small numbers of female students in the class.


All engineers should be familiar with the concept of sustainability. ABET lists sustainability as one of the constraints for engineering designs under Criterion 3 Program Outcome C.1 The National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) The Engineer of 2020 report notes “Engineering practices must incorporate attention to sustainable technology, and engineers need to be educated to consider issues of sustainability in all aspects of design and manufacturing.”2 Davidson et al.3 strongly lobby for the incorporation of sustainability into the “toolbox” of all engineers. This same group recently published the results of a study which attempted to benchmark sustainable engineering education. In their survey of engineering department heads with more than 270 respondents, more than 80% reported teaching sustainable engineering focused courses or the integration of sustainable engineering material into existing courses.4 Increased attention and interest in teaching engineers about sustainability, sustainable development, and sustainable design is also evident based on the number of papers presented at the ASEE annual conference that include these keywords in their titles, as shown in Figure 1.

Bielefeldt, A. (2010, June), Introducing First Year Civil Engineering Students To Sustainability Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15860

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