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Problem Based Learning In Sustainable Technologies: Increasing The Stem Pipeline

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Rethinking Traditional Pedagogical Strategies

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.985.1 - 15.985.17



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Paper Authors


Nicholas Massa Springfield Technical Community College

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Nicholas Massa is a professor in the Laser Electro-Optics Technology Department at Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield, MA. He holds BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from Western New England College and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership/Adult Learning from the University of Connecticut.

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Michele Dischino Central Connecticut State University

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Michele Dischino is an assistant professor in the Technology & Engineering Education Department at Central Connecticut State University. She holds a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Manhattan College and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Judith Donnelly Three Rivers Community College

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Judith Donnelly is a professor of Laser and Fiber Optics Technology at Three Rivers Community College. She holds a BS degree in Chemical Physics from Tufts University and an MS degree in Bioengineering from the University of Connecticut.

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Fenna Hanes New England Board of Higher Education

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Fenna Hanes is Senior Director of Professional & Resource Development for the New England Board of Higher Education in Boston. She holds a BS degree in Liberal Arts/Business Administration from Northeastern University and an MS degree in Public Affairs from the University of Massachusetts.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Problem-Based Learning in Sustainable Technologies: Increasing the STEM Pipeline Abstract

In this paper, we present the “Problem Based Learning for Sustainable Technologies: Increasing the STEM Pipeline” or “STEM PBL” project, a new three-year National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) project of the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) aimed at increasing the STEM pipeline through problem-based learning (PBL) focused on sustainable technologies. We will discuss how the STEM PBL project team is partnering with industry and research universities who are breaking new ground in sustainable “green” technologies to create a comprehensive series of multimedia PBL instructional materials designed to engage secondary and post-secondary students in real world problem solving with a focus on sustainable technologies. Professional development for teachers and faculty in PBL instructional methods using the STEM PBL materials as well as the development of an online course for in-service STEM teachers and a classroom-based course for pre-service STEM teachers will be discussed. Descriptions and examples of the new multimedia STEM PBL instructional materials will also be presented.


As a new generation of American students move through the educational pipeline, they are inundated with information regarding sustainable technologies and all things “green.” Sustainable technology involves design and innovation that provides for our current needs without sacrificing the ability of future generations to sustain themselves1. Inherently multidisciplinary, sustainable technology requires a holistic approach to understanding the social, economic, and environmental impact that technological innovation poses on the earth and its limited resources. From alternative energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal, to energy efficient lighting, buildings and vehicles, to enabling technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology and photonics, in the 21st century sustainable technology will play an increasingly important role in the world in which we live.

The implications of sustainability are far-reaching and pervasive, affecting all aspects of life including how we generate energy, provide clean drinking water and grow food, manufacture goods and provide services, heat and cool our homes, and get to work and school each day. A growing number of companies and organizations have begun to embrace the idea of sustainability from the perspective that protecting the environment makes good business sense. In education, federal, state, and privately funded programs are creating educational resources for teachers and students aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of sustainability and environmental responsibility. Unfortunately, even with all of the focus and attention given by policy makers and the media about the importance of sustainability, student enrollment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields in the U.S., fields critical to the development of sustainable technologies, continue to lag behind other industrialized nations.

Massa, N., & Dischino, M., & Donnelly, J., & Hanes, F. (2010, June), Problem Based Learning In Sustainable Technologies: Increasing The Stem Pipeline Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16686

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