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The Werc Design Contest: Tufts University's Experience

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.1051.1 - 6.1051.6

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Paper Authors

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Sean DiBartolo

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Linfield Brown

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

Session 3651

The WERC Design Contest: Tufts University’s Experience

Christopher W. Swan, Linfield C. Brown, and Sean T. DiBartolo Tufts University


Tufts University has participated in the annual environmental design contest of the Waste- management Education and Research Consortium (WERC) for 5 of the last 6 years. Beyond its competitive aspects, the design contest serves as a valuable educational tool in the undergraduate curriculum. For example, students are exposed to "real world" aspects of environmental design, learn the importance of working in multi-disciplinary teams, and have their work evaluated by practitioners rather than faculty. In addition, they are encouraged to confront the interplay between various technical and non-technical factors that must be considered to achieve a feasible and successful design.

The WERC contest has been incorporated into the senior capstone design experience for students in the Tufts ABET-accredited BSCE and BSEvE programs. The contest has also provided a venue for non-engineering students from the liberal arts college to participate in and contribute to an upper level engineering course (for academic credit). We have found this to be an enriching experience for both the engineering and non-engineering students participating in the contest.

In this paper we reflect upon the involvement of Tufts University in the WERC design contest from 1995 through 2000. First, we present a review of the Tufts’ student teams and their participation. We then focus on the influence the contest had (and continues to have) on participating students, faculty advisors, and the university. Information in this paper was gathered from reflections by the authors and former student team members. These reflections indicate that the contest had, and in some cases still has, a profound effect on the educational experience of Tufts student participants. Although changes in the contest and how it is managed at Tufts are noted; overall, both students and faculty feel that the contest provides a beneficial educational experience for the students, an experience that is not generally available through traditional course work or laboratory projects.


What is WERC? The Waste-management Education and Research Consortium (WERC) is a consortium of academic institutions, industry, and government agencies partnering in educational, research and outreach initiatives in the environmental field. Academic institutions involved with the consortium are New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMIMT), University of New Mexico (UNM), New Mexico State University (NMSU) and Diné College. The consortium offices reside at NMSU. Major industrial partners have included Westinghouse, Fluor Daniels, Atlantic Richfield (ARCO), Rust Geotech, Inc., and Phillips Petroleum. Major government contributors include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and Department of Agriculture as well as the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

DiBartolo, S., & Brown, L., & Swan, C. (2001, June), The Werc Design Contest: Tufts University's Experience Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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