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Sustainable Research And Design In A Civil Engineering Senior Design Course

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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

Design for Society and the Environment

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1130.1 - 13.1130.11



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Paper Authors


Emily Callaway CH2M HILL

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Emily Callaway is a Water Resources Engineer with CH2M Hill with a strong interest in natural treatment, reuse, and watershed management. Emily is a member of the Water Environment Federations Young Professionals program.

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Sean St. Clair Oregon Institute of Technology

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Sean St.Clair is an assistant professor in the Civil Engineering Department at Oregon Institute of Technology where he teaches structural engineering courses and conducts research in engineering education. Dr. St.Clair is also a registered professional engineer in Oregon and consults in the areas of timber and light gauge steel design and construction.

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

Sustainable Research and Design in a Civil Engineering Senior Design Course


In an effort to help students understand the broader impacts of land development, a significant sustainability component was added to a capstone senior design project course in a small civil engineering program. This year-long course traditionally involves students completing straightforward designs in the areas of structural, transportation, geotechnical, and municipal environmental engineering. In a recent administration of this course however, students were required to include significant and visible sustainability components in each of these four areas. The students were not given a definition of sustainability or any further explanation of expectations. While this initially caused frustration and aggravation, after a great deal of research and design the students came to understand and appreciate sustainable development. This paper will describe the process used to incorporate sustainability and the students’ final designs.


Sustainable development, as defined by ASCE, is “the challenge of meeting human needs for natural resources, industrial products, energy, food, transportation, shelter, and effective waste management while conserving and protecting environmental quality and the natural resource base essential for future development.”1

For practicing civil engineers, sustainability should be more than just a buzz word; it should be an objective for each design, project, and development. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Code of Ethics2 includes the following fundamental principle: “engineers uphold and advance the integrity, honor and dignity of the engineering profession by…using their knowledge and skill for the enhancement of human welfare and the environment.” This principle is expounded upon in one of the fundamental canons2: “engineers…shall strive to comply with the principles of sustainable development in the performance of their professional duties.” Furthermore, the Code of Ethics includes Guidelines to Practice under the Fundamental Canons of Ethics2, four of which directly address sustainability.

• Engineers whose professional judgment is overruled under circumstances where…the principles of sustainable development [are] ignored, shall inform their clients or employers of the possible consequences.

• Engineers should seek opportunities to be of constructive service in civic affairs and work for…the protection of the environment through the practice of sustainable development.

• Engineers should be committed to improving the environment by adherence to the principles of sustainable development so as to enhance the quality of life of the general public.

Callaway, E., & St. Clair, S. (2008, June), Sustainable Research And Design In A Civil Engineering Senior Design Course Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3605

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