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Mask Effectiveness: A Project to Connect Air Pollution and Materials Science

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Environmental Engineering Division Technical Session 2: Innovative Approaches for Teaching Environmental Engineering

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

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Paper Authors


Jean M. Andino Arizona State University

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Jean M. Andino is a faculty member in Chemical Engineering and Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering, and a Robust Entrepreneurial Mindset Leader in the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) program at Arizona State University (ASU). She also serves as the Director of the Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities (a National Science Foundation Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program) and as Interim Director of the ASU Hispanic Research Center. Dr. Andino earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology. Prior to being recruited to ASU, she was on the faculty at the University of Florida, and also worked for 2 years at Ford Motor Company in both their Chemistry and Chemical Engineering departments. Prof. Andino is the recipient of the 2017 Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers STAR Educator of the Year award, a Fulbright US Scholar award in Renewable Energy (for work in the Republic of Panamá during her sabbatical from ASU), and a National Science Foundation CAREER award, among many other local and regional awards. She is also a registered Professional Engineer that volunteers with the National Council of Examiners in Engineering and Surveying.

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Cameron N. Morgan Arizona State University

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Cameron N. Morgan is an undergraduate student in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, majoring in environmental engineering. His research interests include air pollution control, atmospheric chemistry, climate change, and environmental educational outreach. Cameron is a recipient of the Fall 2021 Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative award, a competitive award that enables undergraduates at Arizona State University to conduct laboratory research with faculty. Through this award, Cameron will conduct laboratory research in air pollution control within Prof. Andino's group.

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Lizandra C. Godwin University of New Mexico Orcid 16x16

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Lizandra C. Godwin is a faculty member in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Godwin earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Florida A&M University and her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Florida. After completing her degree, Lizandra worked at Intel Corporation on microchip development and processes for 10 years. Prior to the Univ. of New Mexico, Lizandra was a research assistant professor at Boise State University, where her research group focused on developing 2D and 3D materials for electronic devices and broadening participation in engineering.

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The global COVID-19 pandemic promoted the world community to use face masks to reduce viral transmission. This practice has again raised interest in the effectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of virus particles. This theme provided a unique, timely subject to enhance learning in the field of air pollution control, while enabling distinct connections to the fields of material science as well as human health and air quality. A collaborative “Mask Effectiveness” class project was developed with the objectives of enabling students (a) to identify the types, sizes, and movement of particles that are found in air, particularly those that are expelled during normal human activity, and (b) to characterize the material properties that influence the control of these different particles. A specific focus was placed on the use of face masks made from common textile materials. The “Mask Effectiveness” project required the development of Excel-based animations and tools that encourage students to explore relationships between air pollutants and materials science. The tool was developed such that it provides a solution to the limitations of a student design project for online and hybrid courses. By engaging with the computer-based Excel tool, students are able to evaluate alternative scenarios that include the collection efficiency of particles that arise from different sources (talking, coughing, and sneezing) , and the relationships between mask “breathability”, porosity, and collection efficiency of a mask. The project was designed to be implemented initially with undergraduate engineering students across two universities- Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico. One specific goal at Arizona State University was to reinforce concepts consistent with entrepreneurial mindset learning approaches. An additional goal was to provide a learning experience which allowed students to connect environmental engineering and material science topics to a design challenge that addressed a global community need. This paper describes the specific activities that were undertaken, and connects these activities to ways in which teaching methods may be altered by using an Excel-based module.

Andino, J. M., & Morgan, C. N., & Godwin, L. C. (2021, July), Mask Effectiveness: A Project to Connect Air Pollution and Materials Science Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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