MSOE’s Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management (CAECM) Department added a new course this academic year. Sustainability and Resilience (CAE 4881) is offered to juniors and provides a background in sustainability so students can integrate it into their design and decision-making processes in the context of infrastructure systems and the built environment.

Dr. Deborah Jackman, P.E., professor emeritus and graduate programs director for CAECM, notes that a growing desire of incoming and current students in environmental sustainability helped to create the course at MSOE. Giving students a background in sustainability will also help them once they are in the field to apply sustainability framework and rating systems to their projects.

“In order to be good global citizens, engineers of the future need to appreciate how their professional and personal actions and decisions impact the larger society and planet,” said Jackman. “It is today’s college age students who will be in a position through their future professional work to positively affect progress toward addressing climate change.”

Specific topics explored in the course include:

  • The relationship between human activity and negative environmental impacts
  • Design strategies that civil engineers and construction managers can use that can reduce negative environmental impacts
  • The impact that the Triple Bottom Line has on their project decision making (environmental, economic and social factors)

Mackenzie Rynes, a junior civil engineering major with an emphasis in construction management, is one student enrolled in Sustainability and Resilience. Her favorite part of the course has been learning about the variety of green rating systems (LEED and Envision) that impact building projects. In the course, she has also explored environmental drivers that are impacting the construction industry such as climate change, ozone and resource depletion, loss of biodiversity and water quality.

Rynes believes that the course content sets her up for success after she graduates from MSOE. Many companies are making sustainability a larger priority and having this background will help her to stand out among other candidates.

“The construction industry is highly dependent on both the influence of the government and the priorities of our clients, both of which are working towards focusing more on sustainability and resilience, so entering the industry with a better understanding of these topics will allow me to be a more effective manager for those projects,” said Rynes.

A greater understanding of sustainability will help her as she faces new challenges and constraints that will impact the construction industry and our society now and in the future.

“There will always be a need to build and maintain the structures that we have and as there are new requirements from the government and further limitations on the resources that are available, the industry will have to adapt to incorporate more sustainability efforts as well as ensure that buildings and infrastructure remain resilient as the demands on our structures increase over time.”

To learn more about this course, visit our academic catalog.