(619g) A Chemical Engineer’s Guide to Contemporary Problems of Climate, Energy and Environment

Lueking, A. D., Pennsylvania State University
From artists to engineers, how does an instructor best prepare his or her students for issues they will face related to climate change, energy supply, and the nexus of these two issues? Future public policy decisions may very well be in the hands of those without a strong scientific background. Meanwhile, as many engineering undergraduates are developing the technological background to tackle these challenges, they may miss out on many aspects of a broader education that will put future solutions in context. Topics regarding energy and the environment are much broader and more complex than can be covered in the traditional one hour lecture period. Over the past year, the authors have been working on a general education book entitled, â??How Science is Done: Contemporary Problems of Climate, Energy and Environmentâ?. Although targeted to a general (i.e. non-scientific) audience, the book is relevant to providing the future chemical engineering workforce a broader understanding of how technology will impact society and the environment. In the book, we have also worked to incorporate a number of detailed discussions on the physics of how the earth's climate is determined and regulated, the thermodynamics and mechanics of engines, energy conversion and conservation, and the mass flows of carbon throughout the environment. A number of these examples are relevant to the basic chemical engineering curriculum. Even more of these examples can be used to engage first-year engineering students in the impact engineering has on the society and the environment. Several classroom examples will be shared in this session, with a focus on how they might be utilized within the existing chemical engineering curriculum. A longer term â??green engineeringâ? project that incorporates hands-on campus-wide sustainability initiatives into an advanced undergraduate elective will also be discussed. To â??engineer a sustainable futureâ?, our undergraduates will need a broad contextual understanding of energy usage, energy supply, carbon emissions, and environmental ramifications of technology.