In response to changing curricular requirements, industrial concerns and student retention problems, more and more institutions of higher learning are embracing the concept of introducing engineering freshman to design problems during their first year of study. The discipline of Environmental Engineering can provide numerous examples which are suitable for entering engineering freshman to study as a design exercise. At New Jersey Institute of Technology, faculty from the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Environmental Science team teach a freshman engineering design course in which student teams site and design a proposed roadway connecting two existing highways with the objective of minimizing adverse environmental impacts. The students are divided into four (4) person teams in a course that meets once (1) a week for fourteen weeks. The students are issued maps and told where the highway connections must be made. The student teams must initially identify three (3) potentially feasible routes and justify which one they finally select. The culmination of the course is a written report and an oral presentation by the student group articulating the basis for their selected route to their classmates and faculty. Based on student evaluations, the course is perceived as challenging and is well received.
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