I learned so much from my students today! This contextualized writing course focuses students on the topic of Sustainability and culminates with a 10-20 minute collaborative presentation where students “pitch” their Proposal idea by explaining the viability of their project given the real constraints of the campus infrastructure. Using the Campus as a Living Lab, this project brings inter-disciplinary teams of engineers together to identify and solve a real campus issue and write a collaborative, research-based proposal using current data from SJSU’s STARS report and peer-reviewed journal articles gathered from the campus database collection.

Topics focus on key areas of sustainability, such as transportation, water, energy, buildings and safety and provide students with ‘real world’ experience designing an engineering solution to a current issue on or around the campus. Creativity abounded as teams explained projects such as, a recycling container that uses a materials scanner to help consumers sort their recycling, a device that converts and stores kinetic energy generated by building doors to power exit signs and safety lighting during emergencies and can operate ADA compliant doors, a ‘green roof’ design that incorporates self-sustaining power (solar) and monitoring systems.

Project-based teams write presentation “scripts” and create visually-balanced PPT presentations to thoughtfully explain their research-based ideas for improving sustainability on our campus. These collaborative presentations must meet strict time limitations and provide references and visualizations. Presentations are “crowd scored” by the other project teams using a Presentation Rubric and Canvas discussion forum.

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You know the presentation is good when you see a room full of engineering students with computers and phones, and no one is looking at their screen. Very cool!

Each of the presentations was engaging and informative from beginning to end. I’m so proud of the whole group of students—presenters and audience. A great day in the classroom.

Next week students will view the final GreenTalk online and hear from one of our esteemed Engineering professors who will overview the City of San Jose “Smart Cities” partnership and summer conference in his lecture, the final talk in our weekly Guest Speaker series. The talk provides an overview of how SJSU engineering faculty and students are working with San Jose City officials to build cloud-based systems designed to address key problems in San Jose’s infrastructure, such as street cleaning, building efficiency, illegal dumping and community connectivity.

Here is a link to some lectures for this course: InstructorKnapp Teaching blog

On this Instructable post, I practice some of what I preach in the classroom by building a bioswale.