Asee peer logo

Introduction to Environmental Modeling: Results from a Three-Year Pilot

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Environmental Engineering Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Daniel B. Oerther Missouri University of Science & Technology Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Professor Daniel B. Oerther, PhD, PE, FAAN, FRSA, FRSPH, FCIEH, ANEF, FSEE, joined the faculty of the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2010 as the John A. and Susan Mathes Chair of Civil Engineering after serving ten years on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati where he was Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Oerther earned his B.A. in biological sciences and his B.S. in environmental health engineering from Northwestern University (1995), and he earned his M.S. (1998) in environmental health engineering and his Ph.D. (2002) from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He has completed postgraduate coursework in Microbial Ecology from the Marine Biology Laboratory, Environmental Health from the University of Cincinnati, Public Health from The Johns Hopkins University, and Public Administration from Indiana University, Bloomington. Oerther is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in DC, MO, and OH. He is Board Certified in Environmental Engineering (BCEE) by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientist (AAEES), registered as a Chartered Engineer (CEng) by the U.K. Engineering Council, recognized as a Diplomate of the American Academy of Sanitarians (D.AAS), certified as an Environmental Health Specialist (CEHS) by the State of Missouri, registered as a Chartered Environmentalist (CEng) by the U.K. Society for the Environment, and recognized as a Certified Environmental Professional (CEP) by the Academy of Board Certified Environmental Professionals. Oerther's scholarship, teaching, service, and professional practice focus in the fields of environmental biotechnology and sustainable development where he specializes in promoting Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH), food and nutrition security, energy efficiency, and poverty alleviation. Oerther's awards for teaching include the best paper award from the Environmental Engineering Division of ASEE, as well as recognition for excellence in teaching from the NSPE, the AAEES, and the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP). He participated in both the 2006 and the 2015 conferences of the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) as well as the 2011 Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium (FOEE) of the U.S. National Academies. Oerther is a four-time recipient of Fulbright, and he has been recognized with a Meritorious Honor Award by the U.S. Department of State. Due to his collaborations with nurses and healthcare professionals, Professor Oerther has been inducted as a Lifetime Honorary Member of Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honor Society of Nursing (STTI), and he has been inducted as a Lifetime Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) and the Academy of Nursing Education Fellows (ANEF). Oerther has also been elevated as a Fellow of the Society of Environmental Engineers (FSEE), the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), the Royal Society for Public Health (FRSPH), and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (FCIEH).

visit author page

Download Paper |


A redesigned course employing blended delivery, a flipped format, and modified mastery learning with a buffet approach to assign final grades was used to teach environmental modeling to classes containing approximately 15 dual-level (juniors, seniors, and first year graduate) students pursuing baccalaureate degrees in environmental, civil, or architectural engineering or a graduate degree in environmental engineering. The course introduced “systems engineering” as described by the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), and the course included explicit consideration of the 5-P’s, namely: 1) people; 2) planet; 3) prosperity; 4) partnership; and 5) peace as described by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During the semester, students developed five models, including: 1) a mass balance of the popular game, “Hay Day” by Supercell; 2) taste and odor removal from drinking water using activated carbon for the city of Chicago, Illinois; 3) transferable discharge permits to find the least cost solution for removal of biochemical oxygen demand in the Athabasca watershed of Western Canada; 4) tradeoffs to reduce air pollution and improve ground-level visibility in metro Beijing, China; and 5) improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) in developing communities. The construction of each model included ten steps, namely: 1) providing a narrative of the overall problem; 2) identifying important states and relationship with typical values and ranges of states; 3) developing a pictorial representation of the system; 4) listing critical assumptions; 5) using assumptions to reduce model complexity; 6) creating a mathematical representation; 7) implementing a computational solution; 8) interpreting the results of the computational solution; 9) conducting a sensitivity analysis; and 10) describing lessons learned from the modeling exercise. A unique aspect of this course was the integration of Diplomacy Lab from the US Department of State as the subject material for term-length projects, including: 1) using the internet of things to assess threats from dirty bombs; 2) using epidemiology to assess threats from outbreaks of communicable disease arising from populations of co-located prisoners; or 3) using actuarial science to assess climate threats to the fishing industry in the Caribbean.

Oerther, D. B. (2019, June), Introduction to Environmental Modeling: Results from a Three-Year Pilot Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33020

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015