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Using Modeling Software For Environmental Engineering Technology

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.582.1 - 4.582.3

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Steven Schneiderman

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

Session 2548

Using Modeling Software for Environmental Engineering Technology Steven S. Schneiderman Murray State University

ABSTRACT An environmental modeling course allows students to develop software utilization capability through three stages. In the primary phase students become accustomed to the capabilities of spreadsheet and statistical packages. In the intermediate phase students create personal models using mathematical and analytical programs. Finally, students are exposed to industry modeling packages. Each phase is dedicated toward utilizing the models to depict instantaneous conditions and as indicators of future environmental impact.

TEXT Comprehension of environmental modeling is a reasonable expectation stemming from a university education in engineering or technology. And though neither employers nor graduate schools anticipate specific software expertise, confidence toward skillful utilization of company-wide programs, whatever the source, whatever the operating system, will enhance a graduate’s prospects. Therefore, the task facing educators, usually within the context of one semester, encompasses three phases. These are; first: the ability to foster maximum impact from the most ubiquitous software; second: the ability to derive and program models based upon mathematical tenet. In environmental technology phase two includes laboratory exercises to compare models with reality. The third phase requires students become acquainted with industrial and agency modeling programs.

In order to foster the most beneficial learning environment an instructor must budget time allocated to each phase based upon overall program expectation; engineering grounded in theory; technology grounded in theory and practice. Also, the nature of computer utilization eschews individualism in favor of the collective. The instructor need construct an environment that separates group effort from individual effort lest one student solve all problems and simply pass mechanics on to his/her peers. But group effort is necessary, particularly in the beginning of each phase. Damon and Phelps determined problem solving is enhanced when carried out in a social setting1, and Roschelle determined collaboration participants converge toward the common solution2. The key becomes timely divergence from the one or two accelerated individuals toward the capability of each to personally understand and use the tools.

For modeling under the auspices of environmental engineering technology the class occurs in the senior year (concurrently for first year graduate students). Phase one consists of extensive use of data based spreadsheet programs. Students are provided data regarding an environmental issue (e.g. atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations at several reporting stations or comparative storm water flowrates at one location) and challenged to develop plausible regressional analyses and effective graphic presentations.

Schneiderman, S. (1999, June), Using Modeling Software For Environmental Engineering Technology Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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