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Sustainable Design In Engineering And Technology Education: A Multidisciplinary Model

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.919.1 - 6.919.5

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Elizabeth Coles

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

Session 2451

Sustainable Design in Engineering and Technology Education: A Multidisciplinary Model

Elizabeth Coles Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, IN 46202


The current paper describes a model for integrating a sustainable design course that can be open to all students within an Engineering and Technology curriculum. It identifies the rationale for such a course, topics covered in an introductory review of sustainable design issues, methods and learning strategies useful in teaching in a multidisciplinary venue and associated criterion from ABET 2000 that are integrated into the course design. This paper provides a sample syllabus for the course as well as a suggested project to be assigned to each multidisciplinary team.

I. Introduction

With emerging international implications for global industrial ecology, the need for the inclusion of sustainable design principles into the engineering and technology curriculum cannot be denied. According to Richards and Frosch, industrial ecology has become jargon for describing systems of production and consumption networks that have minimal impact on the environment as the primary objective and environmentally sustainable economic expansion as an overarching objective.1 Green topics that will become part of many future professions include issues of indoor air quality, utilization of dwindling natural resources, efficient use of energy and reduction of greenhouse gases. The value of discovering the variety of fields that are involved in developing the use of recycled materials to create newly manufactured products and processes also supports teamwork in the green environment. A multidisciplinary emphasis on these topics within a course benefits future employers focusing on an “environmental thrust” in product development and manufacturing. Such a course offered across the engineering and technology curriculum at the beginning phases of study supports the opportunity for students to later apply their specific disciplinary knowledge within the rubric of environmental issues.

II. Course Description

Sustainable Design in Engineering and Technology is designed to sensitize engineering and technology students to the value of understanding global environmental issues. The course assists them in later creating ecological solutions within their unique disciplines. A theoretical framework on Green Design developed by the author enables students to identify and apply sustainable concepts while working in multidisciplinary teams.2 Sustainable topics discussed in the course emphasize environmental concerns for better indoor air quality in commercial, residential

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Coles, E. (2001, June), Sustainable Design In Engineering And Technology Education: A Multidisciplinary Model Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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