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Sustainable Engineering Internships: Creation and Assessment

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Stimulating Broader Industrial Participation in Undergraduate Programs

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1219.1 - 25.1219.15



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Paper Authors


Yvette Pearson Weatherton University of Texas, Arlington Orcid 16x16

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Yvette Pearson Weatherton received her Ph.D. in engineering and applied science (environmental engineering) from the University of New Orleans in 2000. She is currently a Senior Lecturer and Associate Chair of the Department of Civil
Engineering at the University of Texas, Arlington, and is a registered Professional Engineer in Louisiana. Pearson Weatherton has served (and continues to serve) as PI or Co-PI on several projects funded by the National Science Foundation, including "Engineering Sustainable Engineers," which is the focus of this paper.

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Victoria C. P. Chen University of Texas, Arlington

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Stephen P. Mattingly University of Texas, Arlington Orcid 16x16

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K.J. Rogers University of Texas, Arlington


Melanie L. Sattler University of Texas, Arlington

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Melanie Sattler serves as an Associate Professor at the University of Texas, Arlington, where she teaches courses and conducts research related to air quality and sustainable energy. Her research has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Luminant Power, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. She has published more than 60 peer-reviewed papers and conference proceedings. In 2010, she received UT Arlington's Lockheed Martin Excellence in Engineering Teaching Award. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Texas.

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Sustainable Engineering Internships: Creation and AssessmentEngineering Sustainable Engineers, a program sponsored by National Science Foundation, was designedto improve undergraduate student knowledge of and competency in addressing sustainability issues inengineering design and problem solving. The program involves collaboration among faculty in Civil,Industrial, and Mechanical Engineering at the University of XXXX. One of the key program elements isplacing students in their junior or senior year with companies using exemplary sustainable design andoperation practices. The internships expose students to development of solutions that mitigate potentialnegative impacts on sustainability.To identify companies with exemplary sustainable design and operation practices, the project teamcreated a “Quality Sustainable Engineering Internship Survey” via Survey Monkey, which was sent toover 250 companies that hire engineers in the XXXX area. The top four companies identified wereKimley-Horn and Associates, a civil engineering consulting firm specializing in land development,transportation, environmental services, and surface water resources; Facility Performance Associates, aconsulting firm specializing in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) project delivery;PepsiCo, the consumer products company focused on convenient foods and beverages; and KrogerManufacturing Vandervoort Dairy, which makes milk products for the grocery store chain. Followingreview of student applications, 6 students were placed in internships with the 4 companies, over 2summers.To evaluate the effectiveness of the internships in achieving project outcomes, each student completed asurvey at the end of his/her internship to assess the impact of the experience. In addition, at the middleof the internship and at the end, each student submitted a report describing their work on a project,explaining impacts of projects/designs on sustainability, and recommending methods of mitigating thoseimpacts. At the end of each summer, a seminar was held, at which each student presented one of his/herreports. Students, company representatives, and faculty mentors attended the seminar, and used a rubricto assess the student presentations.Survey responses show that the students feel that the internships increased their ability to explainsustainability concepts, recognize impacts of engineering projects on sustainability, and identify mitigationstrategies for reducing negative impacts on sustainability. The internships also increased their ability towork effectively in multidisciplinary teams. Particularly encouraging are the responses that students willbe more likely to consider sustainable design options in their future career, with 5 students stronglyagreeing and one student agreeing.Company representatives also completed a survey, with the goal of collecting information to improvefuture internship experiences. The fact that all companies want to participate in the program again andwould recommend the program to other companies is positive. Our hope is that these initial internshipswill initiate long-term partnerships that will enable the internship program to continue.

Pearson Weatherton, Y., & Chen, V. C. P., & Mattingly, S. P., & Rogers, K., & Sattler, M. L. (2012, June), Sustainable Engineering Internships: Creation and Assessment Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21976

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