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Category:Engr308 Technology and the Environment

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Engineering 308 (Engr 308), Technology and the Environment, is a course taught at Humboldt State University, currently by instructor Lonny Grafman. See course content and past projects below.

General Idea

Projects that allow students to use excel to create dynamic judgments or comparisons of specific technology based upon explicit quantified data. Critical analysis is based on multiple metrics, such as water, money, energy, carbon, etc. Future projects could include comparing paper cup use versus ceramic cups, hybrid versus SUV use, CFL versus incandescent, various building materials, etc.
Clients are selected by the instructor based upon the clearness of their question and its impact on decisions at the intersection of technology and the environment. Clients are given preference in the following order (most to least): Local business, non-profit organization, government organization, local group, school organization, citizens.
Clients understand that the more they work with the students the better their project will be, and make a minimum commitment of four meetings with their team. Some teams choose to work for themselves.
Students work in teams of four or five.
Project documentation
Teams construct a working spreadsheet of their analysis and write:
  • Instructions on how to use their worksheet
  • Justification of values
  • Conclusions based upon their analysis
Other coursework
Coursework revolves around dimensional analysis, working with Excel, quantifying information, making back of the envelop calculations based upon known values, and critical thinking about how technology and humans intersect the environment. Basic knowledge in sciences such as thermodynamics and chemistry will be leveraged to produce practical and prudent answers.

Potential Projects

Projects with CCAT

  • Rainwater sizing, impact and buyback time for the CCAT building
  • Water filtration: Brita v Multipure v ...
  • MEOW: Solar v Bike costs, energy, embodied energy
  • Shed building material: Strawbale v Papercrete vs ....
  • Shed insulation: Blown in cellulose v denim vs ...
  • Shed framing: Post and beam v ...
  • Shed finish: Clay v lime plaster v ...

Other or no clients

  • Comparison of building materials (various local business clients available for different material comparisons)
  • Hummer v Prius
  • Paper plates v washing plates
  • Stainless steel v Ceramic mug v disposable cups
  • Stainless steel mug v disposable cups
  • Keep 1988 Dodge and drive into ground v Prius
  • Buy a book from or drive to Big Box Bookstore
  • Solar systems sold (replacing kerosene) v 5 flights to Ghana
  • Pumping: pedal power v diesel (diesel, bioD, BioD from different stuff)
  • E/acre wind/solar/ethanol/bioD
  • Paper v Plastic
  • Toilet paper v cleaning by hand
  • Glass bottles v Plastic bottles
  • Incandescent bulbs in CFL in a heated environment


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