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Introduction To Engineering Design Through Environmental Engineering Projects

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Environmental Engineering Undergraduate Research

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.841.1 - 11.841.8



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Paper Authors


Simeon Komisar Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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SIMEON KOMISAR is a Clinical Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer. Dr. Komisar's research interests include: water, wastewater, and hazardous waste treatment. His teaching interests include Biological Processes in Environmental Engineering, Solid and Hazardous Waste Engineering, and Environmental Process Design. He may be reached via e-mail at

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Lupita Montoya Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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LUPITA D. MONTOYA is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer. Her research interests include method development, indoor air quality, bioaerosols and health effects of aerosols. Her teaching interests include Engineering Design, Air Quality Management and Air Pollution Aerosols. She may be reached via e-mail at

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

Introduction to Engineering Design Through Environmental Projects


At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Introduction to Engineering Design (ENGR2050) is a required course for all sophomore Engineering majors. Traditionally, this course has been taught in the context of Product Design and in small teams of 6 to 8 students. As depicted in Figure 1, this is a four-credit course, of which one credit is taught as Professional Development (PD1). The PD1 portion of the course is taught by instructors at the Archer Center for Student Leadership Development at Rensselaer. The mission of the Archer Center is to complement Rensselaer’s educational mission by providing skill-based, leadership education to its students and community. According to the Archer Center: “The purpose of Professional Development 1 is to provide students with an introduction to a simulated professional environment where they can be exposed to the body of knowledge on effective teams.” The material covered in the PD1 portion of the course consists primarily of skills-based learning meant to foster effective teamwork abilities. Skills and topics covered include: collaboration, effective communication and feedback, conflict management, team development, and ethical decision-making. The coursework and assignments help students gain topical knowledge, analyze and apply basic concepts, and expand written and oral communication skills. Instructors for the PD1 portion of the course work in close contact with the instructor in charge of the engineering portion of the course. Instructors work together to coordinate activities within each portion and confer with each other throughout the semester to address emerging issues and to optimize individual efforts. This collaboration is important as teams develop and internal conflicts appear. It is also important for the students to view this course as one entity and not two separate units.

The main focus of this course, however, is the design component. In the past, the design projects have varied annually, but they have usually involved the design of small objects such as cannons, ships, etc. The Environmental Engineering Program at Rensselaer, however, has delivered this subject matter in the context of Process Design for Environmental Systems. Before the first author joined this institution (Fall 2003), this course was taught as a hands-on Introduction to Water Quality with student teams focused on production of devices like portable (back-packing style) water filters. More recently, the author delivered this course in the context of Air Quality, where the projects often involved the design of air cleaner systems or aerosol laboratory instrumentation.

In 2005, the School of Engineering conducted a major re-structuring of IED and a renewed emphasis on hands-on projects was implemented. This new focus on project-based learning is in accordance with trends around the country 1. The first author embraced some of the recent changes to the course and adopted additional ones to tailor the needs of the Environmental Engineering majors. In particular, the projects chosen for the Environmental Engineering section revolve around issues of Sustainable Development. The proposed overall project for this semester is to design a system to provide potable water to poor communities in the developing

Komisar, S., & Montoya, L. (2006, June), Introduction To Engineering Design Through Environmental Engineering Projects Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1345

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