Transdisciplinary approaches for teaching and assessing sustainable design

Derrick Tate, Timothy Maxwell, Atila Ertas, Hong Chao Zhang, Urs Peter Flueckiger, William Lawson, A. Dean Fontenot, John Chandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Sustainable design can be defined as incorporating larger environmental, resource, and social issues into decisions of the conceptualization, design, manufacture, operation, and end-of-life ofproducts and systems. These larger issues include, for example, environmental concerns, energy independence, economic viability, and social impact. This paper argues for the need for transdisciplinary approaches for teaching and assessing sustainable design for undergraduate engineering curricula. These transdisciplinary approaches are discussed in the context of application to traditional senior- attd freshman-level ('capstone' and 'cornerstone') design projects and incorporation into innovative technology programs that provide outreach and seamless pathways for recruiting engineering students and developing a sustainable workforce. The teaching and assessment of sustainable design concepts and approaches should be driven by social and industrial needs while addressing forward-looking issues including the design and development of innovative products and service systems that use dramatically less energy, the reduction of energy intensity in manufacturing, and the provision of energy using 'green' technologies. The sections of this paper cover transdisciplinary design: sustainable design projects for undergraduate education; and pathways for a sustainable engineering and technology workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-429
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010


  • Seamless technology program
  • Sustainable design
  • Transdisciplinary design
  • Undergraduate education


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