A Constructionist Learning Approach for Educating Undergraduate Engineers on Sustainable Design and Manufacturing

Project No.
1432774
PI Name
Karl Haapala
Institution
Oregon State University



Abstract 1

A Constructionist Learning Approach for Educating Undergraduate Engineers on Sustainable Design and Manufacturing

Presentation Type
Poster
Team
Karl R. Haapala, Oregon State University Kyoung-Yun Kim and Carolyn E. Psenka, Wayne State University Kathy L. Jackson, The Pennsylvania State University


Need

Existing tools to support sustainable engineering and decision making are notably deficient. In particular, those to support instruction of undergraduate engineers about the various, competing objectives attendant with evaluating economic, environmental, and social performance are lacking. This research is assessing the state of understanding under traditional learning contexts to assist in development of methods/tools based on constructionist learning theory. Work also will provide a virtual platform that enables learners to visualize the impact of product design changes on manufacturing process and supply chain sustainability performance.

Goals

Major goals of the project include: 1) Enabling students to attain a deeper conceptual understanding of sustainable life cycle engineering, 2) Providing a distributed cyberlearning environment for team-based and personalized design activities that consider human controlled or initiated environmental impacts of products, and 3) Providing models for integrated analysis of manufacturing processes and supply chains to assessing sustainability performance in the early product design stage.

Major activities of the project are as follows: 1) Development of constructionist learning modules to increase awareness of the effects of purchasing decisions on the environment, 2) Development of three CooL:SLiCE platform modules: the Product Visualization, Manufacturing Analysis, and Sustainable Product Architecture and Supplier Selection modules, and 3) Integration of the learning modules, design activities, and CooL:SLiCE cyber-platform.

Approach

By its nature, the constructionist learning paradigm requires the learner to interact externally for gaining information and supporting decision making in the design and making of a product. This concrete approach is supportive of engineering education. It is also amenable to the creation of physical or virtual products, while considering multiple objectives and constraints, as required by sustainable life cycle engineering. This project brings together experts from the design engineering, industrial and manufacturing engineering, and educational domains to develop the requisite engineering methods/tools and supporting learning modules.

Outcomes

First, project-based learning activities across the three universities were evaluated and compared. It was found that course level, student preparation, and scaffolding impacted the design outcomes and student perception of learning. Second, preliminary tools have emerged to evaluate the effect of product attributes on processes and parameters, suppliers, and environmental impacts. Third, a web-based interface for the CooL:SLiCE platform has been developed and prototyped to demonstrate product visualization and reporting of manufacturing and supply chain analysis results. This work provides a basis to advance CooL:SLiCE platform modules, and to extend the online framework for more comprehensive sustainable product assessment on the basis of energy consumption, carbon footprint, cost, and lead time for different product variants.

Broader Impacts

This project aims to transform undergraduate engineering education. Experiences and data collected will inform how engineering curricula may be improved by integrating constructionism and cyberlearning approaches, specifically for improving understanding of product sustainability analysis. The project is directly impacting pre-college, undergraduate, and graduate researchers at each institution, as well as offering the opportunity for them to interact with faculty researchers from across disciplines and across universities. Project results have been communicated to audiences at engineering education, design engineering, and manufacturing engineering conferences, as well as an industrial/academia energy forum.

Unexpected Challenges

Due to the timings of courses throughout the year, differences in academic calendars, and differences in Institutional Review Board policies among the three universities, conducting cross-university surveys and analysis of courses has been a challenge. We have dealt with this issue by maintaining a flexible, adaptive approach to survey development and delivery.

Citations

Kim, K. Y., Psenka, C., Haapala, K. R., Jackson, K., 2015. Constructionist Learning for Environmentally Responsible Design. In: 122nd American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference & Exposition, 2015, June 14-17, Seattle, Washington.

Kim, K. Y., Psenka, C., Haapala, K. R., Jackson, K., 2015. Constructionist Learning for Environmentally Responsible Design. Poster presented at the 122nd American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference & Exposition, 2015, June 14-17, Seattle, Washington.

Raoufi, K., Kim, K. Y., Psenka, C., Jackson, K., Haapala, K. R., 2015. Manufacturing and Supply Chain Analysis to Support Sustainable Design. Poster presented at the 10th ASME Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference (MSEC) Conference, 2015, June 8-12, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Kim, K. Y., Psenka, C., Haapala, K. R., Jackson, K., 2015. New Constructionism to Support Deep Understanding of Sustainable Life-cycle Engineering. Presented at the IIE Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Sessions (ISERC) Annual Conference & Expo, 2015, May 30-June 2, Nashville, Tennessee.