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Project Based Pedagogy To Enhance Teaching And Learning In Energy And The Environment For Honors Students

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Project-Based Education in Energy Conversion

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1196.1 - 12.1196.21



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Paper Authors


Yaw Yeboah Pennsylvania State University

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Yaw Yeboah is Professor and Head of the Department of Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. Prior to joining Penn State, he was Professor of Chemical Engineering and Associate Dean for Science and Engineering in the School of Arts and Sciences at Clark Atlanta University. He has over 25 years of research (academic and industrial), teaching and project management experience.

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Sarma Pisupati Pennsylvania State University

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Sarma Pisupati is Associate Professor of Energy & Geo-Environmental Engineering Department and a Faculty Fellow of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute of the College of Earth and mineral Sciences. He is Chair of the General Education Program of the EGEE Department and has been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses at Penn State University since 1992.

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

Project-based Pedagogy to Enhance Teaching and Learning in Energy and the Environment for Honors Students


The paper presents a project-based teaching pedagogy for an honors level freshman course on energy and the environment. In addition to class lectures and discussions, students select from among a menu of energy-related topics for their project. The projects cover various aspects of the in-class discussions on energy fundamentals, renewable energy, fossil fuels, environmental impact, and energy policy. Each student prepares a 30 minute presentation on their topic to be given in class. The key criteria are for the lecture and data presented to be substantially different from the in-class lectures, up-to-date, and extend beyond the US (i.e., internationalized or globalized). Students are expected to be the experts on the topic after completing and presenting their project. Sample student topics include: wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, biomass, ocean and tidal energy, coal, petroleum, natural gas, oil shale and tar sands, electric power, fuel cells, environmental impact of energy, energy supply and demand, materials for energy applications, and the 2005 US Energy Act.

The class, over a two year period 2005-2006, has shown a remarkable level of growth, excitement and interest of students. The presentations followed by questions and answers have shown enhanced teaching and learning of students. Student evaluations have indicated the project to be one of the key aspects of the course students liked most. It was concluded that project-based pedagogy significantly enhances teaching and learning.


To meet the ever increasing energy demand, the nation and the world need a well trained and diverse workforce to develop process, utilize and manage both conventional and renewable energy sources in an environmentally safe and economically viable manner. Unfortunately, many of the academic programs that provided such workforce (e.g., chemical engineering) have redirected their focus to the health or bio-related areas leaving many energy producing and consuming industries with a high average technical workforce age and growing workforce demand. There is also renewed emphasis on the development of alternative sources of energy to conventional fossil fuels. The increasing demand for energy and trained energy workforce calls for innovative methods to increase enrollments and graduation rates of students in energy-focused disciplines.

Penn State University has significant resources and expertise in energy especially within the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) through the departments of Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering (EGEE), Material Science and Engineering and Geosciences as well as the Energy Institute (EI)1. The EMS College, in collaboration with other Colleges, is uniquely positioned to assist in this area of national importance: energy. The EGEE Department2, for example, is committed to educating the student body at Penn State with regard to energy and energy concerns. This department is currently

Yeboah, Y., & Pisupati, S. (2007, June), Project Based Pedagogy To Enhance Teaching And Learning In Energy And The Environment For Honors Students Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--3066

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