265397 Incorporating Sustainability Into Engineering Research and Teaching

Tuesday, October 30, 2012: 12:30 PM
329 (Convention Center )
David T. Allen, Department of Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

What does it mean for an engineering design to be sustainable? Design tools that allow engineers to choose inherently safer chemicals, improve energy efficiency, improve mass efficiency, and reduce emissions and exposures are certainly part of an emerging tool set engineers will need for sustainable designs.  But, sustainability remains a subjective concept.  Given that the concept of sustainability has not been defined in the type of quantitative framework used in engineering design, it is useful to take a pragmatic approach to defining the tools of sustainable engineering.  Many engineering educators are incorporating sustainability concepts into the courses that they teach and the research that they perform.  Assembling an inventory of what is covered in those courses and research programs represents a first step in defining sustainable engineering.  An inventory of university-based engineering research and teaching related to sustainability has recently been completed and the results of this inventory will be presented in three parts. First, the types of engineering courses in which sustainability concepts are being addressed will be described, along with the diverse subject areas covered in these courses.  Second, a brief overview of the current landscape of university-based engineering research, related to sustainability, will be presented.  Finally, a case study of sustainability-related research, the development of smart, green, electrical grids, will be presented.  This research program, underway at the University of Texas, is examining how utilities can balance between carbon emissions, criteria air pollutant emissions, and water use, while still satisfying electricity demand.

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