Community Scale Research-based Integrated Education Experience

TitleCommunity Scale Research-based Integrated Education Experience
Publication TypeWorking Paper
AuthorsTarantino, S., F. Peterson, A. Cooperman, N. Struthers, and M. Fischer
Year of Publication2016
Date Published10/2016

The building industry is moving towards increased use of data driven methods for designing, building, and operating sustainable, energy-efficient buildings. The adoption of these methods requires technologically skilled employees and education programs for these skills. The purpose of this paper is to show that by aligning community, education, and industry stakeholders, a data-driven, project-based education platform can be developed that creates a pathway for generating such employees and a platform for investigating building energy efficiency and sustainability. Our methodology for developing this project-based education platform hinges on partnering with stakeholders from community organizations, education, building operations, building energy efficiency, and construction.

We approached the development of the education platform from our standing as researchers in civil and environmental engineering. In order to integrate industry and academia, we partnered with stakeholders who represent construction trades and K-12 education. Together we laid the groundwork for leveraging school district green energy facility projects funded by California Proposition 39 to build an education platform that follows the facilities project process. Then, we began partnering with local K-12 teachers to develop the core of our education platform, a building energy efficiency and sustainability course module. These partnerships with the construction trades, K-12 educators, and affiliated education programs are presently ongoing.

Through the last two decades of work from Stanford University’s Project Based Learning (PBL) Lab, we have seen that PBL creates an environment for learning-by-doing in which students from different schools and countries successfully apply classroom knowledge to solve real world design problems, become student mentors, and interact with industry. Additionally, our K-12 collaborators have started using PBL. Thus, we have planned our course modules using PBL to enable multiple levels of education to collaborate within one course.

Overall, we are developing an education platform that (1) uses a real building construction experience to teach energy efficient building design and operation and (2) partners students with industry. Our platform integrates students from the secondary, apprentice, undergraduate, and graduate levels. This platform targets underrepresented communities where environmental justice is an everyday reality, college is often an unrealized path, and opportunities in the construction industry are a pathway to financial security.

Acknowledgements: We thank Dr. Renate Fruchter for her guidance, encouragement, and involvement. Her Project Based Learning Lab for global students is the basis for the virtual classroom component and is inspiration for the collaboration focus of our proposed platform. We are thankful to the Santa Clara County Construction Careers Association (S4CA) and in particular to the support and encouragement from both Brenda Childress and Dr. Ingrid Thompson. The Alum Rock School District has been pivotal in providing us support and mentoring, we are thankful to Dolores Marquez for her constant encouragement and for her focus on the students. We are thankful to OpTerra Construction for their collaboration and participation during the development of this research. Our collaboration with the Santa Clara education community has been supported by several graduate students within our program, specifically we thank Anthony Kinslow II.

KeywordsEnergy Efficiency, PBL, Project Based Learning
WP139.pdf3.11 MB

Last modified Wed, 26 Oct, 2016 at 8:42