June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.858.1 - 24.858.12
Lesson in implementing sustainability courses into the engineering curriculum This paper will describe a newly accredited Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree requires the completion of a two-‐course sequence in sustainability. The sustainability courses are the first significant exposure for undergraduate engineering students to sustainability, environmental engineering, and industrial ecology applications. This paper will discuss the lessons learned after four years of offering the two-‐course sustainability sequence in the general engineering curriculum. Remaining challenges include, determining and adapting to prerequisites for the course, adapting the courses to the evolving engineering curriculum, and prioritizing topics to be covered. AASHE lists seventeen graduate degree programs in sustainable engineering. The US EPA issued a report entitled “Benchmarking Sustainable Engineering Education,” in which they list 65 referenced courses with a focus on sustainable design and engineering. Alleby et. al. state in the paper entitled “Sustainable engineering education in the United States” that: “Sustainable engineering is a conceptual and practical challenge to all engineering disciplines.” In spite of this broad challenge, there is no consensus yet as to the curriculum requirements for implementation of sustainable design practices across undergraduate engineering programs. Unfolding environmental events, like the recent flooding in New York, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and our changing climate, mean that sustainability courses will increasingly be desired in engineering fields. Sustainability courses are already a requirement for most graduates of EU, Chinese, and Indian engineering programs. Chemical engineering, construction engineering, energy engineering, industrial engineering and mechanical engineering, which have not historically included a required environmental engineering course, will require a fundamental understanding of sustainability indicators and metrics in order to stay relevant in international opportunities. Furthermore, most required environmental engineering specific courses are only suitable for civil and environmental engineering majors. Introductory environmental engineering courses often have objectives focused more upon historical perspectives in remediation and large-‐scale treatment systems than upon forward-‐looking sustainability concepts. The suitability sequence introduces applications of fundamental environmental science and sustainability indicators that are being broadly adopted by industry and organizations to make informed resource management and design decisions. The two-‐course sustainability sequence includes foundational knowledge of environmental impact assessment methods, life cycle analysis, and energy considerations. Prerequisites for such a course are the foundational math courses in calculus, chemistry, and physics. The sustainability sequence was designed for sophomore to senior students in engineering and is applicable to all engineering disciplines. The topics covered in the sequence include: • Sustainability, Engineering and Design: Definitions of sustainability • Fundamentals of environmental impacts • Biogeochemical cycles • Impacts on water quality • Impacts on air quality • The carbon cycle, mass balances, and energy balances • Models for Engineering Sustainable Design • Energy conservation and development • Industrial Ecology • Life Cycle Analysis • Sima Pro LCA modeling • Engineering for Human Communities: The Social Context of Sustainable Design This sustainability sequence could be adopted for a two semester sequence in sustainable aspects of deign and engineering, or could be used as a foundational for graduate work in sustainability and engineering.
Striebig, B. A., & Papadakis, M., & Ogundipe, A., & Morton, S. A. (2014, June), Lesson in Implementing Sustainability Courses into the Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20749
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