Asee peer logo

Sustainable Energy Design Projects For Engineering Freshmen

Download Paper |


2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Design Experiences in Energy Systems

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1336.1 - 12.1336.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Jennifer Mullin Virginia Tech


Jinsoo Kim Korea National University of Education

visit author page

Dr. Jinsoo Kim is a visiting professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech from July 2006 to July 2007. He is a professor in the Department of Technology Education at Korea National University of Education. He is interested in subject-matter education of Technology, Engineering, and Industry. His permanent e-mail address is

visit author page

author page

Vinod Lohani Virginia Tech

author page

Jenny Lo Virginia Tech

Download Paper |

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

Sustainable Energy Design Projects for Engineering Freshmen


In the fall 2006 a sustainable energy design project was piloted in a first semester engineering course “Engineering Exploration” at Virginia Tech. The main objectives were to develop students’ knowledge of sustainable energy, provide an introduction to the engineering design process, and to improve students’ team and communication skills. The theme of sustainable energy was selected in support of the goal of an ongoing Department-Level Reform (DLR) project from the NSF, and to also initiate curricular activities supporting the newly formed Dean’s Taskforce on Energy and Sustainability. This task force seeks to coordinate, promote, and position the university’s educational, research, and outreach efforts to achieve sustainable and secure energy systems. Approximately 1,200 students completed the six week long team design project which culminated with a design showcase where 17 semi-finalists competed for 1 of 3 prizes. This paper presents the implementation details of the design project. In addition, results of a mixed-method study with 112 students which include pre- and post-test survey data examining general knowledge of renewable energy, attitudes towards renewable energy, engineering design and feedback from focus groups interviews are discussed.

1. Introduction

The General Engineering program at Virginia Tech is being reformed as a part of a Department-Level Reform (DLR) grant from the NSF. A theme based spiral curriculum approach, proposed by an educational psychologist Jerome Bruner, is adopted with sustainability as the theme for the proposed reformulation [1]. “Engineering Exploration EngE1024,” is a 2-credit first semester course, offered by the Department of Engineering Education (EngE), which traditionally incorporates a student design project. Successful completion of EngE 1024 and another introductory engineering design course is mandatory for all engineering students prior to their admittance into 1 of 11 degree granting engineering departments. As a result of the DLR project, EngE 1024 has undergone significant restructuring targeted at enhancing student learning by incorporating contemporary engineering issues and implementing a variety of formative and summative assessment tools [1, 2, 3, 4]. A major restructuring of the EngE1024 course was initiated in spring 2005 when students began attending both a weekly lecture and workshop session. The 50-min lecture was led by EngE faculty in a large classroom with approximately150 to180 students. A weekly 90- min. workshop session followed where the emphasis was on active learning through a variety of hands-on activities led by a graduate teaching assistant. In addition to a variety of collaborative student-centered learning activities created specifically for these workshop sessions, design projects were also developed in order to promote teamwork skills, provide an introduction to the engineering design process, and to highlight a variety of contemporary social and technical topics relevant to a broad range of engineering disciplines. This paper presents implementation details of a six week long sustainable energy design project, developed by the lead author and course coordinators, and piloted in the fall 2006 semester. In

Mullin, J., & Kim, J., & Lohani, V., & Lo, J. (2007, June), Sustainable Energy Design Projects For Engineering Freshmen Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2245

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015