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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 28, 2008 | Vol. 37 No. 32
'Green' Engineering Grows More Common in the Classroom

By Debi Rager
Special to The Gazette

Now that green is not just a color but also an environmentally conscious way of living and doing business, there is a growing need for classes that incorporate "green" knowledge. The Johns Hopkins Engineering and Applied Science Programs for Professionals are responding to that need.

"The environmental and conservation movement is revitalized, with a new strategy focused on finding innovative solutions for the most pressing ecological challenges," said Allan Bjerkaas, EPP associate dean. "Most of the 'green' technology is in the early stages, which presents practically unlimited opportunities for scientists and engineers to create systems that use energy more efficiently. Companies' desire to incorporate this new knowledge into their operations fits the EPP paradigm to provide students with a relevant, cutting-edge education."

A number of EPP instructors are actively engaged in research related to the sustainability of vital human ecological support systems, and they're sharing what they've learned about "green" technology with students.

This year, two EPP instructors offered master's-level "green" courses. Harry Charles, chair of the applied physics academic program and head of APL's Technical Services Department, taught a course called Alternate Energy Technology. He created the course, he said, because "energy is on everyone's mind. There is a lot of new technology available, and we've had students inquiring about the subject, so I thought there would be interest in it." Interest was indeed there: More than 20 students from a number of engineering and science disciplines enrolled.

The course addressed energy sources that provide alternatives to fossil fuels. The instruction also focused on the technology basis of alternative energy methods and their practicality, potential for widespread use and economic effectiveness. The class covered energy technologies such as photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind energy, geothermal and thermal gradient sources, biomass and synthetic fuels, hydroelectric, wave and tidal energy, and nuclear energy.

"We also discussed the physics behind the primary energy technologies, some of the history of various systems, ongoing research and the influence of politics on alternative energy," Charles said.

Another faculty member, William Roper, led a course in the Environmental Engineering, Science and Management program called Sustainable Development and Next-Generation Buildings. Roper is the director of the Department of Environmental Services for Arlington County, Va., and is a research professor in the Department of Geography at George Mason University.

The course introduced students to the concepts, applications and tools that stakeholders need for analysis and decision making in sustainable environmental development and the design of next- generation communities and buildings. In this context, "sustainable" refers to human economic systems that can last longer and have less impact on ecological systems.

The course covered LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building and certification principles as well as integrated design and construction practices in the areas of sustainable site planning, safeguarding water and water efficiency, energy efficiency and renewable energy, conservation of materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. Roper used case studies to illustrate concepts and applications, including the relevance of sustainable development to infrastructure issues that may occur in the federal Base Realignment and Closing process.

EPP plans to offer additional "green" courses as engineers and scientists seek greater expertise in alternative technologies and sustainable development.


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