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Positioning Students to Understand Urban Sustainability Strategies through Vertical Integration

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1231.1 - 26.1231.5



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Paper Authors


Chelsea Mann Arizona State University

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Chelsea Mann is a graduate civil engineering student within the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University.

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Kristen Parrish Arizona State University

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Kristen Parrish is an Assistant Professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University (ASU). Kristen’s work focuses on integrating energy efficiency measures into building design, construction, and operations processes. Specifically, she is interested in novel design processes that financially and technically facilitate energy-efficient buildings. Her work also explores how principles of lean manufacturing facilitate energy-efficiency in the commercial building industry. Another research interest of Kristen’s is engineering education, where she explores how project- and experience-based learning foster better understanding of engineering and management principles. Prior to joining ASU, Kristen was at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) as a Postdoctoral Fellow (2009-11) and then a Scientific Engineering Associate (2011-2012) in the Building Technologies and Urban Systems Department. She worked in the Commercial Buildings group, developing energy efficiency programs and researching technical and non-technical barriers to energy efficiency in the buildings industry. She has a background in collaborative design and integrated project delivery. She holds a BS and MS in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan and a PhD in Civil Engineering Systems from University of California Berkeley.

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Mikhail Chester Arizona State University

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Positioning Students to Understand Urban Sustainability Strategies through Vertical IntegrationSustainability has been proven to be a significant need for the civil and construction engineeringand management (CCEM) industries. The concept of sustainability, however, is not commonlytaught in the undergraduate curriculum; it is generally covered and taught in graduate-levelcourses. Though undergraduate students may have an interest in sustainability, their exposure toit comes later in their educational curriculum. In this Transforming Undergraduate Education inSTEM (TUES) project, the researchers develop a problem-based learning framework that (1)introduces sustainability earlier in the undergraduate curriculum, and (2) provides an opportunityfor vertical integration across courses within CCEM curriculum. The goal of introducingsustainability concepts is two-fold: to enhance undergraduate students’ interest in andunderstanding of sustainability by engaging them in real-world sustainability projects; and toprovide students with necessary knowledge for advancing a career in sustainability withinCCEM. The vertically-integrated problem-based learning (PBL) framework developed in thecourse of this TUES project provides undergraduate students with both knowledge and toolsneeded to address urban sustainability issues in their future careers, whether in industry oracademe. This framework is replicable and can thus be deployed across universities as part of theCCEM curriculum.The PBL framework is developed and implemented at Arizona State University between alower-division construction management course, Construction Materials, Methods andEquipment (CON252) and an upper-division civil engineering course, Urban InfrastructureAnatomy and Sustainable Development (CEE 486/598). CON252 focuses on the building designand construction process, ranging from excavation to material choice to various buildingsystems. CEE 486/598 focuses on infrastructure systems from the technical and socialperspectives and examines the interdependences between these systems.The pilot implementation of the vertically integrated PBL framework in the Spring 2014semester provided lessons learned that contributed to further refining and restructuring theframework. In the pilot implementation, students in the CON and CEE courses connectedthrough one student group in CEE 486/598. Students from the lower-division course performed aquantity takeoff for this singular group, and did not interact with the entire CEE 486/598 studentbody. Moreover, the integrative aspect was not stressed between the two courses as strongly as itshould have been, as the idea of vertical integration did not resonate with student groups in eitherof the courses throughout the semester.In the second implementation, overall project themes better reflect one another to promotevertical integration between the two courses. Results suggest more cohesive projects bring aboutgreater opportunities to integrate the two courses through assignments and tasks. The idea ofvertical integration is a focus throughout the semester, as students from each course will visit theother to introduce their projects and task needs. Consistent communication between the twocourses encourages involvement in each other’s projects, and further promotes verticalintegration between the lower-division and upper-division undergraduate course.

Mann, C., & Parrish, K., & Chester, M. (2015, June), Positioning Students to Understand Urban Sustainability Strategies through Vertical Integration Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24568

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