Presentation on theme: "1 A Graduate Course Sequence in Sustainable Engineering: The Carnegie Mellon Experience Cliff I. Davidson, Chris T. Hendrickson, and H. Scott Matthews."— Presentation transcript:
1 A Graduate Course Sequence in Sustainable Engineering: The Carnegie Mellon Experience Cliff I. Davidson, Chris T. Hendrickson, and H. Scott Matthews Talking and Walking Sustainability Second International Conference on Sustainability Engineering and Science Auckland, New Zealand February 21, 2007
2 Acknowledgments The authors wish to acknowledge NSF for funding the Center for Sustainable Engineering which has assisted the course development. The authors also wish to acknowledge the students in the course sequence for their valuable suggestions for improving the courses.
3 Outline of the Talk 1. Content of each course in the sequence 2. Student reactions to the courses 3. Evaluation of student learning in the courses
4 Content in the Graduate Course Sequence in Sustainable Engineering (SE) Introduction to Sustainable Engineering -- Philosophies of SE, 350 definitions -- Club of Rome (1972), WCED (1987), WBCSD (1992) -- Population models, food production, freshwater -- Urban problems in industrial and developing worlds Industrial Ecology and Green Engineering Design -- Natural systems: flows of nutrients and energy -- Industrial systems: flows of materials, energy, waste -- Changing industrial systems to resemble natural systems
5 Content in the Graduate Course Sequence in Sustainable Engineering (continued) Life Cycle Assessment -- Input-output models -- Process-based models -- Hybrid models Case Studies in Sustainable Engineering -- Mobility: the automobile -- Biodiesel -- Freshwater -- Global climate change
6 Example of an Education Module Shipment of Products from Manufacturer to Consumer Materials Engineering Should the trucks/vans have bodies made of steel or aluminum? aluminum is lighter but steel provides more protection per unit thickness in an accident recycled aluminum can be used again, while recycled steel is often too weak for re-use as vehicle bodies
7 Case Study Shipment of Products from Manufacturer to Consumer Mechanical Engineering What fuel should the vehicles use? ethanol has heating value only slightly less than gasoline and can be made from renewable biomass large amounts of energy needed to harvest and convert the biomass to ethanol
8 Case Study Shipment of Products from Manufacturer to Consumer Civil Engineering Should rail be used for long-distance shipment? trains are more energy efficient than trucks trains cannot travel point-to-point, requiring unloading and re-loading
9 Student Reactions to the Courses Students are generally highly positive about the courses. Nevertheless, there are some problems: No textbook, challenging to read journal papers Difficult to get big picture from technical details presented in courses Some gaps in the sequence: no full cost accounting, environmental management systems, corporate responsibility, etc. Difficult to develop material that can accommodate students from all engineering disciplines Difficult to achieve a balance between technical content and social sciences
10 Evaluation of Student Learning Pre-course and post-course surveys used to determine incremental knowledge gained. Two types of questions: -- Open-ended opinion questions - How long will it take the world to transition to a sustainable state? - What do you feel are the top five environmental problems facing the world today? - How optimistic are you that these problems will eventually be solved rationally? (no violence, wars, etc.) -- Questions to test factual knowledge and understanding - define sustainability - define industrial ecology - write equations to model mass and energy balances
11 Results from the Evaluation of Student Learning 1. Students are generally learning the technical material well 2. Comparing pre-course and post-course responses on the opinion questions shows that students better appreciate the complexity of sustainable engineering after the course 3.Most students want to learn more about sustainable engineering as a result of the course
12 Conclusions 1. The four-course graduate sequence in Sustainable Engineering at CMU is a popular addition to the graduate curriculum. 2. Students like the sequence, but feel there are some improvements that could be made. 3. The courses are advertised on the Department website which results in many inquiries (and by extension, many applications to our program) as a result.