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Sustainable Natural Resource Engineering

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Sustainability and Engineering Courses

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1129.1 - 13.1129.17



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Paper Authors


Daniel Lynch Dartmouth College

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Daniel R. Lynch is MacLean Professor of Engineering Science at Dartmouth College, and Adjunct Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He is a member of ASEE, ASCE, and AGU; and serves on the ASCE Body of Knowledge (2) Committe whose report will be released February 2008. He is the author of "Natural Resource Management for Scientists and Engineers - Framing Sustainability", scheduled for release in 2008. During 2007-08 he is in residence at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, as Senior Visiting Reserach Scholar.

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

Sustainable Natural Resource Engineering


Natural Resources figure centrally in the understanding of Sustainability and the Professional responsibility of engineers. A teaching approach is outlined that a) utilizes standard Engineering preparation in applied mathematics; b) applies it as a unifying theme across the natural resource field; c) embeds basic undergraduate exposure to ecological and economic concepts; and d) operates via desktop simulation tools accessible to all university students. The approach suggested is related to the new American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Body of Knowledge (BOK2) requirement of Sustainability.


Natural Resources underpin all engineering productivity – as source of materials, as environmental media, and as habitat for all living populations including humans. As such they constrain all approaches to sustainability. Understanding their intrinsic dynamics, their unique economics, and their intersection with corporate and governmental agencies, is critical to successful implementation of sustainable engineering. The “triple bottom line” (environmental, economic, social) characteristic of sustainable engineering demands a holistic approach rooted, fundamentally in the Natural Resource interactions with the built, economic, and social environments.

A teaching approach to sustainable engineering based in Natural Resources is described below. It employs the mathematical analysis already familiar to undergraduate engineers and scientists. The resources are sorted into classes by the relevant dynamics. A course-based approach taught at Dartmouth to general engineering students utilizes the mathematics described above plus simulation with simple desktop tools. This course is available in an emerging texti and software.

This approach largely fulfills the new ASCE Body of Knowledge (BOK2) requirement for sustainability; that innovation is described and examined as part of this presentation. The opportunity to offer this material through Environmental Engineering programs, as part of a Sustainability initiative, will be discussed.

Sustainability – the Vision

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) convened important symposia in 2004ii and 2005iii to address engineering and engineering education with a focus on the near-future (2020). Sustainability was highlighted prominently:

Lynch, D. (2008, June), Sustainable Natural Resource Engineering Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3813

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