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Contextualizing Environmental Sustainability in Design Engineering Curricula

[+] Author Affiliations
Devarajan Ramanujan, William Z. Bernstein, Monica Cardella, Karthik Ramani

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Paper No. DETC2014-34528, pp. V003T04A025; 10 pages
  • ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 3: 16th International Conference on Advanced Vehicle Technologies; 11th International Conference on Design Education; 7th Frontiers in Biomedical Devices
  • Buffalo, New York, USA, August 17–20, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4634-6
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


Consideration of environmental sustainability is significantly altering the nature of the mechanical design process. This necessitates integration of sustainability related learning content in design engineering curricula. Although various frameworks for teaching sustainable design exist, a survey conducted among practicing student engineers shows the presence of significant knowledge gaps. To this end, we propose a problem-based framework for contextualizing sustainability assessment within design engineering curricula. Our framework makes it possible for embedding sustainability related concepts within traditional engineering courses and promotes discovery learning among students by means of design exploration. We illustrate our approach using a shape synthesis task that integrates environmental assessment into design by constraining the decision space for domain specific variables. Results from a user survey for analyzing the effects of our framework show its ability to promote both awareness and applicability of sustainable design concepts as well as its potential for use in existing engineering curricula.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME



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