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World Energy in Engineering Design

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Michele Putko P.E. University of Massachusetts - Lowell

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Michele is a lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UMass, Lowell. She earned her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Old Dominion University and her M.S. from Auburn University. She also holds a Masters of Strategic Studies form the U.S. Army War College, and a B.S. from the United States Military Academy. She retired as a Colonel from the United States Army after a 28-year career in multi-functional logistics. Her research interests include energy literacy, climate change literacy, and optimization under uncertainty. She is a member of the UMass Lowell Climate Change Initiative.

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Juliette Nicole Rooney-Varga University of Massachusetts - Lowell

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Juliette N. Rooney-Varga is Director of the UMass Lowell Climate Change Initiative and Associate Professor of Environmental Biology.  Her microbial ecology research has spanned diverse topics related to carbon cycling, climate change, and energy; from feedback loops in microbial production of methane in the Arctic and the climate system, to harnessing electricity produced by anaerobic microorganisms in soil.  She recently led the NASA-funded Climate Education in an Age of Media (CAM) Project to integrate student-produced media and climate change science, while empowering students to add their own voices to the societal discourse about this issue.  She is also working closely with Climate Interactive, developing cutting edge decision-support simulations for climate and energy policy. With support from the National Science Foundation, Rooney-Varga’s group and Climate Interactive are bringing decision-support simulations into immersive role-playing exercises that enable students, citizens, and decision-makers to come to their own insights, grounded in current scientific understanding, about the impacts of national and regional climate and energy policies.

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As engineering students consider the economic, social, political and ethical aspects of design, they are often treated as compulsory aspects which must be checked off a list as they dive deeper into the technical aspects of design. Getting students to be equally concerned with and passionate about the nontechnical aspects of design is often challenging. The World Energy simulation, a very interactive and state-of-the-art simulation, brings students out of their technical comfort zones and allows them to control various levers which impact global climate change. Incorporating the World Energy simulation (created by Climate Interactive) into virtually any engineering design problem provides students the opportunity to engage in discussion and debate concerning the nontechnical aspects of design and their relation to global climate change. In Design of Thermal Fluid Systems, mechanical engineering students considered a design problem in the age of carbon taxation, an actual economic and political issue under consideration at the state level. The students’ participation in World Energy to kick off their design process changed their outlook for the remainder of the design. They truly seemed to understand and care about the complex social, political and economical issues related to their engineering design. Their reflections reveal that the exercise deepened their understanding of the nontechnical issues both in the design and in life in general.

Putko, M., & Rooney-Varga, J. N. (2016, June), World Energy in Engineering Design Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27056

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