June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.935.1 - 13.935.14
Not Just Informative, but Necessary: Infusing Green and Sustainable Topics into Engineering and Technology Curricula
Generally accepted duties of engineers and technologists encompass designing and implementing solutions to problems. When so doing, it is their responsibility to be cognizant of the impacts of their designs on, and thus their accountability to, not only society in general, but also subsequent effects upon the environment. They need to be able to concurrently satisfy these competing needs, as well as constraints specific to the design challenges at hand. Responding to these requirements are the growing fields of green engineering and sustainable engineering. Both of these areas encompass many concepts, ideas, and tools, all of which are essential information for graduates to know and understand. Many degree programs do not offer this type of information to their students. It is true that modifying curricula can be challenging, especially as pressure mounts to teach the students more information, but not extend their tenure at the university.
Toward that end, the goal of this paper is to discuss three key topics that can be readily infused into existing coursework with minimal disruption: raw materials, process efficiencies, and wastes/byproducts. These three themes are essential to any engineering field or application, whether discussing design, manufacturing operations, management, service operations, or energy production, to name only a few. These concepts apply to traditional engineering materials and even to organic and biological processing, and they extend fully across the engineering spectrum, from product conception to end-of-life. Indeed, these three topics are multidisciplinary in nature.
In this paper we will discuss each of these topics in turn, and how to infuse each of them into engineering and technology coursework (there are a variety of ways to successfully incorporate them into existing curricula). We will also provide a resource base that educators can use when pursuing such an endeavor. Augmenting undergraduate and graduate instruction is a strategy that can reap profound rewards, not only because trained graduates will enter the workforce equipped with this knowledge, but bolstering curricula can raise awareness of these topics on many levels, ranging from the students themselves to the public at large.
In recent years there has been growing interest in environmental concerns across a broad spectrum of our society. This has been reflected in publications such as1, 2, 3. Most recently, “An Inconvenient Truth” has captured the attention of the public, and has brought the environment, and the effects of human activities, to the forefront of many people’s minds4. Now, the media is routinely filled with articles discussing these topics. Some of these have begun to focus on technologies, manufacturing practices, and the products which are produced. A few examples include industrial chemicals5, green solvents6, green consumer products7, and environmentally- benign separations processes8.
Rosentrater, K., & Kongar, E. (2008, June), Not Just Informative, But Necessary: Infusing Green And Sustainable Topics Into Engineering And Technology Curricula Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3376
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