Do Your Engineering Students Have the Skills to Manage Sustainable Development in the Real World?

When engineering students grab their college diploma and head out into the real world, they are eager to take on any and all opportunities that come their way. One field many engineers choose to enter is sustainable development. Engineers want to develop solutions that are long-lasting, efficient, economically viable, and environmentally sound.

In 2012, the sale of environmentally friendly products reached more than $40 billion, according to data research by Advertising Age. Within those sales, $10 billion was spent on environmentally sound vehicles, and $2 billion was spent on energy-saving light bulbs. Spending in the global market is even higher. By 2020, it’s expected that global sales for environmental technologies will reach an approximate $2.74 billion. Most of these sales will go toward products such as energy-efficient motors, appliances, industrial methods, and so on.

“Global sales for environmental technologies will reach an approximate $2.74 billion.”

Have your students mastered the skills they need to manage sustainable development?

They understand the three pillars of sustainability
In 2005, the World Summit on Social Development created three areas within sustainability that needed to be focused on in order to jumpstart improvement. To be successful in the field of sustainable development, students should be aware of these three pillars:

  • Social development: Essentially, this pillar involves protecting people’s health and wellness. There is legislation in place to ensure that the general public is protected from pollution and other dangers that come from manufacturing and product development. Awareness is also within this pillar. Students need to be equipped to educate others and make them aware of the positive impact of sustainable development.
  • Economic development: Sustainability can have a large impact on the economy and can help institute more jobs and increase sales. Students ready to graduate will understand the economic impacts of sustainable development and how it influences businesses and society as a whole.
  • Environmental protection: Students will be knowledgeable on ways to protect the environment, including improving air quality, developing more recyclable and reusable products, protecting ecosystems, and reducing the number of products that put stress on the environment.

They can solve problems
Right now, climate change is a major global concern. As the basis of engineering is mitigating problems by creating or improving solutions, engineering students should be skilled problem solvers. Educators in these programs often work with students and ask them to research and identify problems in sustainable development and figure out ways to solve them. This hands-on approach teaches students the common roadblocks they might run into in their careers and how to avoid them. Through their education, students are working to address climate change, improve the health of the environment and atmosphere, reduce pollution, and promote sustainable growth.

They can work with a diverse team
Sustainability isn’t just a national issue—it’s global. In the environmental engineering field, people collaborate with others from various countries to help design and develop better solutions that help improve the world. In their classes, students should be taught effective ways to communicate with others and how to embrace other people’s ideas to create successful, sustainable solutions.

McGraw-Hill Education’s AccessEngineering is the interdisciplinary online resource that integrates the world’s best-known and most-trusted engineering content with analytical, problem-solving, teaching, and learning tools. AccessEngineering features a wide range of expert environmental and sustainable engineering content to help your students build their skills.

For insight into the future of renewable energy, download this free white paper, An Orderly Transition to Renewable Energy by Dr. Francis M. Vanek, coauthor of Energy Systems Engineering, Third Edition.

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