Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering
Faculty of Applied Science
Queen's University
MECH 425 Engineering for Sustainable Development
(Winter 2010)



Tues. April 13th, 12.00-1.00
Wed. April 14th, 12.00-1.00

  • Marks must be picked up in person.

Green IT Project TAs

Only send Kadra your business via email -- do not post here!

  • email: (You must resubmit your group member names along with business)
  • Emails should contain "Mech425" in the subject line before other words
  • -Amir Nosrat
  • Any appropedia related queries go to me. princevictory [at]
  • Any PV related Green IT project questions and equipment borrow

Description[edit | edit source]

Mech425.jpg This is the main page for Mech425, a Queen's University class on Engineering for Sustainable Development.

Please leave comments using the discussion tab.

MECH 425 Engineering for Sustainable Development[1]F 36-0-6 42

This course introduces students to the fundamental concepts of engineering for sustainability and sustainable development. It covers aspects of appropriate technology, green engineering and materials, resource conservation, renewable resources, and design for extreme affordability. Another emphasis of the course is to introduce students to a range of engineering problem solving methods: methods to identify and select sustainable solutions to design problems; methods of improving existing engineering solutions; and methods of systems thinking. Technical, economic, and social consequences of engineering practices and processes will be examined to better delineate the complex engineering decisions related to social and environmental issues. The goal of this course is to assist students in the application of science and innovation to meet human needs while indefinitely preserving the life support systems of the planet. (0/0/0/21/21)

Outcomes[edit | edit source]

Students will gain an understanding of the social and environmental responsibilities of a professional engineer and the role of sustainability in engineering design and product life cycles, and advance the body of knowledge related to appropriate technologies in both Canada and in developing regions of the world. The course hopes to improve education resources and technology transfer to increase the effectiveness of student projects working towards the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Students will also improve their problem solving ability, written and oral communication, and teamwork skills.

Course Material[edit | edit source]

Required Course Materials[edit | edit source]

  • None but put aside ~$30 for project costs

Additional Materials[edit | edit source]

  • Citizen Engineer
  • Sustainable Development for Engineers: A Handbook and Resource Guide, Edited by Karel Mulder, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, Greenleaf, 2006.
  • Industrial Ecology and Sustainable Engineering, by Graedel and Allenby. Prentice, New York, 2010.
  • Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (Paperback)by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, 2002.
  • The Natural Advantage of Nations. Hargroves and Smith, eds. Earthscan: London, 2006.
  • Becoming Part of the Solution: The Engineer's Guide to Sustainable Development by Bill Wallace, ASCE Publications, 2005.
  • Field Guide to Appropriate Technology, Hazeltine, Barrett and Christopher Bull, editors. Academic Press, New York, 2003.
  • Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World 1999 by Alan Weisman
  • Assorted Journal Papers will be referenced in class and made available on the Mech425 schedule

Course Organization[edit | edit source]

Lectures will concentrate on the presentation of theory with some simple examples. Problem solving and design experience will be gained from assignments and tutorial sessions.

See Mech425 schedule

Course website:

Course Marking[edit | edit source]

Projects Percent
Mech425 Open Access Project 5 +5
Mech425 GreenIT Project 35
Mech425 D-Lab Project 5
Mech425 Microfinance Project 5
Mech425 AT Project 35
Final Exam 10
Total 100

Late Penalty[edit | edit source]

  • Deduct 10% per day, up to 5 working days, then 0 mark. Only exception is for documented illness – Reg. 5d) – missed projects are penalized by the negative square of the percent total.

Policy on Academic Dishonesty – Plagiarism:


Additional Resources[edit | edit source]

  1. Sustainable development is development that meets the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Winter 2010[edit | edit source]

Weekly Schedule: (note change to printed schedule in bold)

day time Place
t 930 Jef 126
w 1130 MIL 105
th 830 Jef 126
f 1030 Jef 126

Safety Training[edit | edit source]

The Department of Environmental Health and Safety is offering several WHMIS training sessions. The courses will be held in the Faculty and Staff Learning Facility, Macintosh Corry, Room B176, Lecture Theatre.

The courses are open to all Queen's students, graduate students, staff, and faculty. The session will be approximately two and a half hours in length and will include an on-line quiz. You must have Queen's Netid to access the on-line quiz. For those people who do not have a Netid, a hard copy quiz will be available. The quiz will be marked and certificates issued upon successful completion.

The course dates are:

  • Tuesday, January 12, 2010 (1:30 pm - 4:00 pm)
  • Thursday, February 11, 2010 (1:30 pm - 4:00 pm)
  • Wednesday, March 10, 2010 (9:00 am - 11:30 am)

You may register for this course by going to

You need to take the refresher quiz every year - go here

Past students[edit | edit source]

Discussion[View | Edit]

Photovoltaics - Reuse, Recycle?[edit source]

Hi Dr. Pearce,

Having almost zero knowledge of solar PV cells (my sincere apologies) and currently heavily under the influence of CIVL 472: Waste Management, I have a question for you regarding end-of-life use of solar cells.

I understand that the cells are generally guaranteed to last about 20 years and their use can continue beyond that; however, they inevitably will need to be replaced at some point. With such a shift towards renewable energy (and therefore, increased production of solar PV cells), has much thought been given to what will happen once they are no longer fit for their original purpose? Can any parts be reused or recycled? Furthermore, does the production of the cells require 100% raw materials, or can some of the parts be made of recycled materials?

Many thanks,

--BD 16:35, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

-- See answer here --Joshua 22:46, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

Mech 425[edit source]

Hi Dr. Pearce,

A few suggestions for your course:

  • There is a steep learning curve in the course, and whilst some students have worked with you before, some workshops in tutorials to get help with Appropedia and Excel would be great. You may have noticed some problems arose with students not knowing what to do or how to do things. Often they Don't know the right questions to ask. A comprehensive tutorial on the things we need to know and why would help.
  • Working in a group to manage an excel document was difficult with different members having different versions of excel. Some suggestions on how best to do this kind of project would help.
  • Any major changes to the course should be emailed to the class
  • Since the lectures and tutorials have many speakers, it would be good for each speaker to tell the class how their lecture fits into the course and what project it applies to, since there are several.

In general, I really enjoyed the course and see its potential.

Thank you[edit source]

Dear Student --

Thanks for the feedback. It looks like in the future I should add an excel tutorial day in addition to the day I spent on Appropedia. Also - the excel version problem - I had not anticipated -- perhaps in the future we can do everything in Open office so that every student has access to the same free version. No major changes to the class so far. In the future we can work on better integrating everything -- I am still trying to give everyone an overview on the topic and every lecture does not have a specific home in a project (there would be way too many projects to cover the topic this way). This is something I can work on as well, though. Thanks -- Joshua 20:34, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

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