June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.1226.1 - 11.1226.7
Teaching Sustainable Engineering Ten Years Later: What’s Worked & What’s Next? Abstract
Teaching environmentally related courses in environmental engineering and mechanical engineering technology curricula at two institutions has generated a wealth of experiences. Design for the Environment at the associate level, Design for Society at the senior level, and Sustainable Engineering at the graduate level are similar, complementary courses. Topics in each include green engineering and environmentally-conscious manufacturing. Environmental awareness discussions are included to make clear the perspective of why engineering students need to learn about green design. The writing components in each course are more involved than those in other engineering courses.
Whereas each course has undergone student and faculty assessments, an accounting of the results reveals similarities and differences in student reactions to environmentally considerate material. This paper includes numerical analysis of student assessments and faculty reviews for the purpose of measuring progress towards common objectives. The paper also discusses qualitative data for understanding the direction sustainable engineering education might take. This analysis becomes useful when making changes to existing courses and plans for future ones by identifying what has worked well and what has not.
While the definition of sustainable development traces to the Brundtland Commission in 1989, a working one for sustainable engineering continues to evolve. The Centre for Sustainable Engineering defines the term as “Engineering technologies and services which deliver greater resource productivity or efficiency and fewer emissions of hazardous substances and/or emissions presenting lower hazards.”1 Considering greater productivity and efficiency in resource use is not a new concept to design engineers. However, the increased awareness of hazardous emissions and their effects is.
As the definition of sustainable engineering has evolved, so has the engineering coursework. Two similar courses at different institutions began in 1995 and 1996. The first, Engineering (ENGR) 271, Design for the Environment, became a requirement of an associate-degree program in mechanical engineering technology (MET). According to the catalog description, the course “examines the effects of progress and advances in technology on the global environment. Product design and manufacturing processes are studied for their effects on the environment.” In the following year, the second institution added the course Engineering Technology (ET) 420, Design for Society, to its bachelor-level program in mechanical engineering technology. Its description is, “an interdisciplinary study of the engineering design process and the influence of society and culture on design.” Although a technical elective initially, the course is required today. In 2001 that same institution added an upper-level course for its senior and graduate students. Environmental Engineering (ENVE) 430, Sustainable Engineering, is a technical elective accepted in a variety of engineering and engineering technology programs. Its description is “a course on engineering which uses ecological principles to minimize waste and
Ciocci, R. (2006, June), Teaching Sustainable Engineering Ten Years Later: What’s Worked & What’s Next? Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--833
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