Interactive Learning to be a Cornerstone of DOGEE Curriculum By Ken Keatley With a financial boost from the National Science Foundation, the Whiting School of Engineering will be modifying the way environmental engineers are trained. The NSF Engineering Education and Centers Division has awarded a $310,500 grant in support of the Combined Research-Curriculum Development Project in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering. The School of Engineering has also pledged substantial funds to support the project. "Current educational practices only equip entry-level professionals with a subset of those tools they need for success," said Charles O'Melia, chairman of DOGEE and principal investigator for the new project. "Learning from books and assignments is less efficient than learning from a more in-teractive environment." Dr. O'Melia believes the Combined Research-Curriculum Development Project will produce just such an interactive environment. Research within the general theme of contaminant transport, fate and remediation will be brought into the classroom by giving students direct exposure to measurement techniques and modeling activities. "The global market for environmental products and services is projected to reach $300 billion annually by the year 2000," Dr. O'Melia said. "A key component of the nation's ability to remain competitive will relate to our success in training students who will enter this work force. We're pleased to be getting the funding that will facilitate our efforts to do that." Money for the three-year project, slated to begin Oct. 1, will be used to purchase computer equipment, construct an instructional video facility and acquire laboratory instruments, all of which will be used to create a hands-on learning environment for undergraduate and graduate students. Also, three new lecture courses and two new laboratory courses will be designed, and 13 existing courses upgraded, to incorporate computer simulation tools. "Unless our undergrads become involved in research, they lose the opportunity to develop skills needed to successfully tackle new problems once they leave an academic environment," Dr. O'Melia said. "We wish to change the manner in which we teach, and to place a priority on integrating our research and teaching activities." Collaborating with Dr. O'Melia are seven Hopkins faculty: William Ball, Edward Bouwer, Hugh Ellis, Lynn Roberts and Alan Stone of DOGEE; Grant Garven of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences; and Eugene D. Shchukin, who has joint appointments at Moscow State University and DOGEE. Nine partners from industry and government have agreed to participate in a seminar series. Dr. O'Melia said that arrangement will enable them to learn of Hopkins research, expose Hopkins students to practical engineering problems and give students an attractive entry to employment opportunities.
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