Tools for Environmentally Sustainable Design

Principal Investigator
Prof. Desiree Plata, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Fund: Alumni Class Funds
Funding Period: AY2020
Department/Lab/Center: Civil and Environmental Engineering

The overarching goal of this project is to change the modern approach to engineering innovation, such that environmental objectives are incorporated (along with traditional performance and cost metrics) at the point of inception of an idea. To achieve this goal, I propose the construction of a class for first- and second-year undergraduates that (1) presents the economic arguments and historical motivation for early evaluation of environmental impact metrics [economic], (2) illustrates modern, rigorous tools for environmental optimization and a hands-on approach to utilization of those tools [technical], and (3) highlights challenges and opportunities for implementation of transformative technologies via “Fireside Chats” with national and global experts drawn from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government, industry, and academia [implementation]. Finally, this project will assess success through mid-term, end-of-term, and voluntary senior-year-post-course surveys to gauge how the students deployed environmental design and implementation strategies in their field of study during their time at MIT, as well as how the knowledge of post-graduate careers influenced their perspective of themselves and their ability to impact the world.