The Contribution of Capstone Projects in Green / Renewable Energy Areas to Growth of the Engineering Curriculum in Global Sustainable Development
The current global considerations regarding sustainable energy use and generation combined with the need of a well-rounded and skilled workforce able to serve a global sustainable industry leads inevitably to new trends and strategic areas in engineering education fields. Our task as educators in the engineering realm is to prepare students to be more effective in a global context as well as to be able to respond to today’s challenges, giving them the essential competencies for global engineering work.
Our Engineering Technology program offers a combined electrical and mechanical engineering technology major, filling in the gap between the industry demand and the current educational majors offerings in the area and nationwide. During past years, responding to global educational and industry demands, our curricula enhanced with several courses related to renewable energy, energy conversion, green energy manufacturing and sustainability. As a result of this enhancement we had an afflux of capstone project topics in the green/renewable energy area reaching a maximum this year when all of our capstone topics are related directly to green and sustainable energy sources or sustainable manufacturing. As a consequence, our curricula moved towards educating students in controversial topics such as global warming, energy security, air pollution, ecological damage, reducing the carbon footprint and green-house emissions. Several new courses have been developed during past two years, further we have taken steps to improve the existing curricula.
The paper aims to present the contribution of several capstone projects developed in the past five years by our students to the growth of the engineering technology curricula in our university. The main aspects presented are related to the integrative approach in green energy harvesting and sustainability, with clear assessment of student-led projects developed during past AYs and how they contributed directly to development of leadership skills along with untamed creativity. While a series of projects are strictly related to energy harvesting, serving as models of energy efficiency and sustainable energy power transmission, others are related to sustainable green energy manufacturing. A technical description of the projects along with clear connections between projects and curriculum development will be described in detail.
Students are continuously and actively involved in self-directed learning to find sustainable solutions to design problems, to recognize that they are part of a global community. Also, these projects served as platforms for course learning modules to enhance existing curricula as well as to develop new courses that ultimately led to a new minor in Green and Sustainable Energy in our department. This paper will present the contribution of all these projects to the new developments, and to building our modern curricula, including assessment, module spin-offs and continuous improvement based on student and faculty feedback.
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