New Center to educate about sustainability

This past Wednesday began with an announcement of the creation of the Center for Sustainable Engineering, a collaboration between Cliff Davidson of Carnegie Mellon, David Allen of the University of Texas at Austin, and Brad Allenby of Arizona State University. The Center?s mission is to educate academia about environmental problems and solutions. ?Education is key? to conserving the environment, Davidson said. ?With everyone involved it will make a difference.?
Sustainable engineering hopes to reduce current environmental problems by developing solutions that will last and benefit future generations. In an October 5 press release from Arizona State University, Allenby said, ?In the past, engineers have been able to pretty much focus on technical issues. But today we live in a very different world, one that requires us to be smarter about the social and environmental implications of our designs and our technologies. We need to continue to provide a high quality of life with less impact on our natural resources.?
Davidson, Allen, and Allenby have designed workshops to promote sustainable engineering education for engineering faculty. Davidson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and principal investigator for the project, expects that these teachers will go back and ?incorporate engineering principles into their classrooms.?
The Center is funded by the National Science Foundation, which donated $1.7 million to run the workshops and the website. The Environmental Protection Agency also gave $350,000 to conduct research surveys on 1500 engineering departments. Davidson stated in the October 5 press release: ?We want this new center to help the nation?s 1500 engineering programs realize that being green may not be easy, but it is vitally important.?
Shahzeen Attari, a graduate student under Davidson, is focused on improving environmental education at CMU. Attari helped design surveys that will be used to assess how much information is retained and implemented at each institution that participates in the sustainable engineering workshops. The surveys will also highlight what needs to be done in order to improve sustainable engineering education in the future.
Educational materials regarding new and improved methods of sustainable engineering will be available online. This database, benefiting teachers, students, and other environmentally concerned individuals, is accessible to all.