June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.1211.1 - 15.1211.9
The Challenge of Teaching Sustainable Development Using a Multidisciplinary Project with Integrated Process Design
The Sustainable Development Capstone Project is a course designed to demonstrate that every engineer, regardless of his or her specialty, must be concerned with sustainable development. It is a final year undergraduate technical project offered to students from all engineering disciplines, which is almost unheard of at the École Polytechnique de Montréal (Polytechnique). The course started in the 2008 winter term and was being given for a third time as this paper was being written. Students work in multidisciplinary teams on a sustainable development project in a context very similar to the real engineering working environment.
A multidisciplinary course provides major challenges for both teachers and students. These include the acceptance of a multidisciplinary technical course when it is a departure from current practice, the process of making students from various disciplines work together using an integrated process design, and the guidance and evaluation of multidisciplinary teams despite limited teaching resources.
This paper will present the course context, the challenges faced to get the course approved, the course description, the main difficulties related to the course organization, and the activities planned to ensure effective student guidance and evaluation. The paper will conclude with lessons learned from both the teacher s point of view.
In 2005, Polytechnique completely reorganized all of its undergraduate engineering programs1 The degree in engineering at Polytechnique is a four-year program of 120 credits, 108 of which are for compulsory courses. One of the major changes to all programs was the addition of a project course to each year so that students could integrate technical learning and apply oral and written communication skills developed in complementary studies.
During this program overhaul process, each department suggested the improvements needed to address the desired competencies and to meet the requirements of the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB)2. To propose such changes, the civil engineering professors compared the competencies achieved in each program course with the desired competencies using a matrix, as suggested in Civil Engineering, Body of Knowledge for the 21st Century3. This examination showed that the civil engineering program should better integrate environmental management and sustainable development into its courses to ensure that students develop the desired competencies.
The idea of contaminating the civil engineering program with sustainable development crystallized in the mind of Professor Louise Millette (Associate Professor and Director of the Department of Civil, Geological and Mining Engineering) following an analysis of the competencies matrix. Initially, she sought and obtained two teaching support subsidies in 2006 and 2007 to finance a pilot project that produced a series of capsules. These capsules are
Desjardins, A., & Millette, L., & Bélanger, E. (2010, June), The Challenge Of Teaching Sustainable Development Using A Multidisciplinary Project With Integrated Process Design Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/15787
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