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Introducing Sustainability into the Civil Engineering Curriculum

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1029.1 - 26.1029.11



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Paper Authors


Virginia Sisiopiku University of Alabama, Birmingham

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Dr. Virginia P. Sisiopiku is an Associate Professor of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the director of the Transportation program. She holds a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from Aristotelian University in Greece, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her teaching and research focus on traffic operations and safety, sustainable transportation, and traffic simulation and modeling. She has served as the principal investigator in 80 projects and authored/co-authored over a 160 technical papers.
Dr. Sisiopiku has been recognized by many organizations for her professional achievements including the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the Federal Highway Administration, the Illinois Association of Highway Engineers, IEEE, and the Women's Transportation Seminar. She is the recipient of the 2007 President’s Excellence in Teaching Award and the 2010 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship, and a Fellow of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

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Robert W. Peters University of Alabama, Birmingham

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Dr. Robert W. Peters is a Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). His educational background is in the field of chemical engineering, with his BSChE degree from Northwestern University and his MS and PhD degrees from Iowa State University. He served as Research Area Leader in the Energy Systems Division at Argonne National Laboratory prior to joining the faculty at UAB. At Argonne, he directed research involving treatment of contaminated soils and groundwater. At UAB, Dr. Peters has taught advanced undergraduate/graduate level courses on the topics of sustainable engineering and energy resources. He has led a number of research projects involving energy conservation and sustainability at UAB. He also has had several projects in which he has served either as PI or a co-PI dealing with the transportation field.

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Ossama E. M. Ramadan University of Alabama, Birmingham Orcid 16x16

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Ossama E. Ramadan is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). His research interests include work zone traffic control, traffic safety, and, planning and scheduling of infrastructure projects. He received his M.A.Sc. in Civil Engineering from Carleton University, and his B.Sc. (Hons.) in Construction Engineering from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT). He was selected by UAB School of Engineering as the 2014 Graduate Student of the Year in Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering and is the recipient of the 2002 Carleton University Merit Scholarship. He was also selected by the President of AASTMT as the 1997 Student of the Year in Construction and Building Engineering. Mr. Ramadan is member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, ASCE, ASEE, and ITE. Currently he serves as the President of the UAB ITE Student Chapter.

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Introducing Sustainability Design and Assessment Methods into the Civil Engineering CurriculumThe American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) defines sustainability as “a set ofenvironmental, economic and social conditions in which all of society has the capacity andopportunity to maintain and improve its quality of life indefinitely without degrading thequantity, quality or availability of natural, economic and social resources”. While theimportance of sustainability is well recognized by professionals and academics alike, CivilEngineering curricula do not typically offer courses covering sustainability design principles andassessment methodologies. To bridge this gap, this paper discusses the development and pilottesting of a new course on Sustainability Design and Rating Systems for upper levelundergraduate and master level civil engineering graduate students.The course development was the result of close and productive collaboration between onetransportation and one environmental engineering faculty member who co-taught the course pilotin the Fall 2014. This approach can set an example of the benefits of multidisciplinary courseinstruction that can foster interaction among traditional civil engineering disciplines for thebenefit of the students. The pilot course focused of sustainable transportation and livable streets,transportation planning and site design for sustainable transportation, sustainability ratingsystems for neighborhoods and infrastructure, brownfield/greyfield redevelopment options, andsustainability and ethics. The objective was to educate the future engineering workforce aboutthe basic principles for sustainable design and evaluation methods, in an effort to raise awarenessand develop expertise on sustainable design options and associated benefits.First, the paper discusses the importance of sustainable engineering course offerings to the civilengineering community and highlights potential societal, health, economic, and environmentalbenefits. Then it summarizes the course development philosophy and delivery approach. As partof the discussion, it highlights instructional technology methods (such as use of YouTube clips,eBooks and other online study resources) adopted in the pilot offering for keeping studentsengaged in a field that is continuously evolving. Interactions between students and professionalpractitioners (through guest speaker seminars featuring sustainability experts, field trips, andhands-on team projects) are further explored. The paper also summarizes student feedback on thepilot course content and delivery methods and discusses opportunities for adaptation ofeducational modules developed for this pilot course offering into short courses, seminars, andwebinars.The work presented in this paper demonstrates a successful integration of sustainability conceptswithin civil engineering curricula, and co-curricular activities and is expected to open newavenues for the dissemination of information on sustainable community design options toengineering students, professionals, researchers and the general public.

Sisiopiku, V., & Peters, R. W., & Ramadan, O. E. M. (2015, June), Introducing Sustainability into the Civil Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24366

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