Johns Hopkins Gazette: August 22, 1994

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
    "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

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