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MIT Environment & Sustainability: Engineering

Like so many of the big challenges taken on at MIT, environmental and sustainability issues demand an interdisciplinary perspective.

From declining fisheries to acute urban pollution to record-breaking global temperatures, the evidence of human impact on the environment continues to mount. And at the same time, the environment shapes us, as human society and institutions are built upon our connection to the weather, land, water, and other species. What can we learn from ecological systems and cycles? What solutions will allow people and the planet to thrive?

MIT scholars, students and alumni are working to understand and help us make progress toward a more sustainable and just world. This core mission draws upon all of the fields represented at MIT: not just science, engineering, and technology, but also the humanities, arts, economics, history, architecture, urban planning, management, policy, and more.

This OCW course collection is inspired by two interdisciplinary MIT programs. Many of the undergraduate courses fall within the undergraduate Environment and Sustainability Minor managed by MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI); the OCW course list employs the undergraduate minor’s four topic pillars. Many of the graduate-level courses are part of the MIT Sloan School of Management Sustainability Certificate curriculum.

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Advanced Seminar: Urban Nature and City Design
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This course will explore the mutual influences of ideas of nature, theories of city design and planning, and practices of urban design, construction, and management. We will investigate how natural processes shape urban landscapes (from the scale of street corner to region) and how to intervene strategically in those processes in order to achieve certain goals. We will examine cases of cities that adapted successfully to natural processes and those that did not. Students will then have the opportunity to research a case of their choice and to present their findings for discussion. The subject may be historical or an an example of contemporary theory and practice. Additional information is also available at Professor Spirn’s class website.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Author:
Anne Whiston Spirn
Date Added:
11/07/2012
Climate Action Hands-On: Harnessing Science with Communities to Cut Carbon
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This course explores how citizen science can support community actions to combat climate change. Participants will learn about framing problems, design ways to gather data, gather some of their own field data, and consider how the results can enable action. Leaks in the natural gas system—a major source of methane emissions, and a powerful contributor to climate change—will be a particular focus. The course was organized by ClimateX and Fossil Free MIT, with support from the National Science Foundation for the methane monitoring equipment. It was offered during the Independent Activities Period (IAP), which is a special 4-week January term at MIT.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
D-Lab: Energy
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D-Lab: Energy offers a hands-on, project-based approach that engages students in understanding and addressing the applications of small-scale, sustainable energy technology in developing countries where compact, robust, low-cost systems for generating power are required. Projects may include micro-hydro, solar, or wind turbine generators along with theoretical analysis, design, prototype construction, evaluation and implementation. Students will have the opportunity both to travel to Nicaragua during spring break to identify and implement projects. D-Lab: Energy is part of MIT’s D-Lab program, which fosters the development of appropriate technologies and sustainable solutions within the framework of international development. This course is an elective subject in MIT’s underGraduate / Professional Energy Studies Minor. This Institute-wide program complements the deep expertise obtained in any major with a broad understanding of the interlinked realms of science, technology, and social sciences as they relate to energy and associated environmental challenges.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
D-Lab I: Development
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D-Lab Development addresses issues of technological improvements at the micro level for developing countries—in particular, how the quality of life of low-income households can be improved by adaptation of low cost and sustainable technologies. Discussion of development issues as well as project implementation challenges are addressed through lectures, case studies, guest speakers and laboratory exercises. Students form project teams to partner with mostly local level organizations in developing countries, and formulate plans for an IAP site visit. (Previous field sites include Ghana, Brazil, Honduras and India.) Project team meetings focus on developing specific projects and include cultural, social, political, environmental and economic overviews of the countries and localities to be visited as well as an introduction to the local languages.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
D-Lab II: Design
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D-Lab: Design addresses problems faced by undeserved communities with a focus on design, experimentation, and prototyping processes. Particular attention is placed on constraints faced when designing for developing countries. Multidisciplinary teams work on semester-long projects in collaboration with community partners, field practitioners, and experts in relevant fields. Topics covered include design for affordability, design for manufacture, sustainability, and strategies for working effectively with community partners and customers. Students may continue projects begun in EC.701J D-Lab I: Development.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
D-Lab: Supply Chains
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This course introduces concepts of supply chain design and operations with a focus on supply chains for products destined to improve quality of life in developing countries. Topics include demand estimation, capacity planning and process analysis, inventory management, and supply chain coordination and performance. We also cover issues specific to emerging markets, such as sustainable supply chains, how to couple product design with supply chain design and operation, and how to account for the value-adding role of a supply chain. A major aspect of class is the student projects on supply chain design or improvement.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
D-Lab: Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene
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This course focuses on disseminating Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) or water/environment innovations in developing countries and underserved communities worldwide. It emphasizes core WASH and water/environment principles, culture-specific solutions, tools for start-ups, appropriate and sustainable technologies, behavior change, social marketing, building partnerships, and the theory and practice of innovation diffusion.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Desalination and Water Purification
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Water supply is a problem of worldwide concern: more than 1 billion people do not have reliable access to clean drinking water. Water is a particular problem for the developing world, but scarcity also impacts industrial societies. Water purification and desalination technology can be used to convert brackish ground water or seawater into drinking water. The challenge is to do so sustainably, with minimum cost and energy consumption, and with appropriately accessible technologies. This subject will survey the state-of-the-art in water purification by desalination and filtration. Fundamental thermodynamic and transport processes which govern the creation of fresh water from seawater and brackish ground water will be developed. The technologies of existing desalination systems will be discussed, and factors which limit the performance or the affordability of these systems will be highlighted. Energy efficiency will be a focus. Nanofiltration and emerging technologies for desalination will be considered. A student project in desalination will involve designing a well-water purification system for a village in Haiti.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
EarthDNA's Climate 101
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The Climate 101 presentation was developed by Brandon Leshchinskiy in collaboration with Professor Dava Newman, MIT Portugal, and EarthDNA in an effort to mobilize young people as educators on the issue of climate change. The presentation addresses not only the science but also the "economics and civics of climate change, incorporating "a negotiation activity that brings key concepts to life. This resource includes the slides and instructions for the presentation, along with an introductory video from Prof. Newman, a video of Leshchinskiy actually delivering the presentation to a classroom full of students, and extensive supporting materials that will help users to become climate ambassadors and deliver the Climate 101 presentation themselves.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Ecologies of Construction
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Ecologies of Construction examines the resource requirements for the making and maintenance of the contemporary built environment. This course introduces the field of industrial ecology as a primary source of concepts and methods in the mapping of material and energy expenditures dedicated to construction activities.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Economic & Environmental Issues in Materials Selection
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Choice of material has implications throughout the life-cycle of a product, influencing many aspects of economic and environmental performance. This course will provide a survey of methods for evaluating those implications. Lectures will cover topics in material choice concepts, fundamentals of engineering economics, manufacturing economics modeling methods, and life-cycle environmental evaluation.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Environmental Conflict
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This course explores the complex interrelationships among humans and natural environments, focusing on non-western parts of the world in addition to Europe and the United States. It uses environmental conflict to draw attention to competing understandings and uses of "natureâ€ as well as the local, national and transnational power relationships in which environmental interactions are embedded. In addition to utilizing a range of theoretical perspectives, this subject draws upon a series of ethnographic case studies of environmental conflicts in various parts of the world.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Author:
Christine Walley
Date Added:
01/01/2005
Environmental Struggles
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This class explores the interrelationship between humans and natural environments. It does so by focusing on conflict over access to and use of the environment as well as ideas about "natureâ€ in various parts of the world.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Author:
Christine Walley
Date Added:
01/01/2004
Environmental Technologies in Buildings
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This course focuses on the thermal, luminous, and acoustic behavior of buildings, examining the basic scientific principles underlying these phenomena and introducing students to technologies and analysis techniques for designing comfortable indoor environments. Students are challenged to apply these techniques and explore the role light, energy, and sound can play in shaping architecture.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Exploring Sea, Space, & Earth: Fundamentals of Engineering Design
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Student teams formulate and complete space/earth/ocean exploration-based design projects with weekly milestones. This course introduces core engineering themes, principles, and modes of thinking, and includes exercises in written and oral communication and team building. Specialized learning modules enable teams to focus on the knowledge required to complete their projects, such as machine elements, electronics, design process, visualization and communication. Examples of projects include surveying a lake for millfoil from a remote controlled aircraft, then sending out robotic harvesters to clear the invasive growth; and exploration to search for the evidence of life on a moon of Jupiter, with scientists participating through teleoperation and supervisory control of robots.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Fundamentals of Advanced Energy Conversion
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This course covers fundamentals of thermodynamics, chemistry, and transport applied to energy systems. Topics include analysis of energy conversion and storage in thermal, mechanical, chemical, and electrochemical processes in power and transportation systems, with emphasis on efficiency, performance, and environmental impact. Applications include fuel reforming and alternative fuels, hydrogen, fuel cells and batteries, combustion, catalysis, combined and hybrid power cycles using fossil, nuclear and renewable resources.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Fundamentals of Energy in Buildings
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This design-based subject provides a first course in energy and thermo-sciences with applications to sustainable energy-efficient architecture and building technology. No previous experience with subject matter is assumed. After taking this subject, students will understand introductory thermodynamics and heat transfer, know the leading order factors in building energy use, and have creatively employed their understanding of energy fundamentals and knowledge of building energy use in innovative building design projects. This year, the focus will be on design projects that will complement the new NSTAR/MIT campus efficiency program.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Global Freshwater Crisis
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For the first time in history, the global demand for freshwater is overtaking its supply in many parts of the world. The U.N. predicts that by 2025, more than half of the countries in the world will be experiencing water stress or outright shortages. Lack of water can cause disease, food shortages, starvation, migrations, political conflict, and even lead to war. Models of cooperation, both historic and contemporary, show the way forward. The first half of the course details the multiple facets of the water crisis. Topics include water systems, water transfers, dams, pollution, climate change, scarcity, water conflict/cooperation, food security, and agriculture. The second half of the course describes innovative solutions: Adaptive technologies and adaptation through policy, planning, management, economic tools, and finally, human behaviors required to preserve this precious and imperiled resource. Several field trips to water/wastewater/biosolids reuse and water-energy sites will help us to better comprehend both local and international challenges and solutions.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Green Supply Chain Management
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The half-semester Graduate / Professional course in Green Supply Chain Management will focus on the fundamental strategies, tools and techniques required to analyze and design environmentally sustainable supply chain systems. Topics covered include: Closed-loop supply chains, reverse logistics systems, carbon footprinting, life-cycle analysis and supply chain sustainability strategy. Class sessions will combine presentations, case discussions and guest speakers. All students will work on a course-long team project that critically evaluates the environmental supply chain strategy of an industry or a publicly traded company. Grades will be based on class participation, case study assignments and the team project.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering Design I
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In this sophomore design course, you will be challenged with three design tasks: a first concerning water resources/treatment, a second concerning structural design, and a third focusing on the conceptual (re)design of a large system, Boston’s Back Bay. The first two tasks require the design, fabrication and testing of hardware. Several laboratory experiments will be carried out and lectures will be presented to introduce students to the conceptual and experimental basis for design in both domains. This course was based in large part on the Fall 2005 offering of 1.101, developed by Prof. Harold Hemond.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Introduction to Sustainable Energy
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This class assesses current and potential future energy systems, covering resources, extraction, conversion, and end-use technologies, with emphasis on meeting regional and global energy needs in the 21st century in a sustainable manner. Instructors and guest lecturers will examine various renewable and conventional energy production technologies, energy end-use practices and alternatives, and consumption practices in different countries. Students will learn a quantitative framework to aid in evaluation and analysis of energy technology system proposals in the context of engineering, political, social, economic, and environmental goals. Students taking the Graduate / Professional version, Sustainable Energy, complete additional assignments.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Introduction to System Dynamics
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Introduction to systems thinking and system dynamics modeling applied to strategy, organizational change, and policy design. Students use simulation models, management flight simulators, and case studies to develop conceptual and modeling skills for the design and management of high-performance organizations in a dynamic world.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Nuclear Systems Design Project
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This capstone course is a group design project involving integration of nuclear physics, particle transport, control, heat transfer, safety, instrumentation, materials, environmental impact, and economic optimization. It provides opportunities to synthesize knowledge acquired in nuclear and non-nuclear subjects and apply this knowledge to practical problems of current interest in nuclear applications design. Each year, the class takes on a different design project; this year, the project is a power plant design that ties together the creation of emission-free electricity with carbon sequestration and fossil fuel displacement. Students taking Graduate / Professional version complete additional assignments. This course is an elective subject in MIT’s underGraduate / Professional Energy Studies Minor. This Institute-wide program complements the deep expertise obtained in any major with a broad understanding of the interlinked realms of science, technology, and social sciences as they relate to energy and associated environmental challenges.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Principles of Engineering Practice
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This class introduces students to the interdisciplinary nature of 21st-century engineering projects with three threads of learning: a technical toolkit, a social science toolkit, and a methodology for problem-based learning. Students encounter the social, political, economic, and technological challenges of engineering practice by participating in real engineering projects with faculty and industry; this semester’s major project focuses on the engineering and economics of solar cells. Student teams will create prototypes and mixed media reports with exercises in project planning, analysis, design, optimization, demonstration, reporting and team building.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Public Transportation Systems
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This course discusses the evolution and role of urban public transportation modes, systems, and services, focusing on bus and rail. It covers various topics, including current practice and new methods for data collection and analysis, performance monitoring, route design, frequency determination, vehicle and crew scheduling, effect of pricing policy and service quality on ridership.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Reading Seminar in Social Science: The Geopolitics and Geoeconomics of Global Energy
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This course focuses on strategic and political implications of ongoing trends in global energy markets, particularly markets for crude oil and natural gas. The course examines the world’s major oil and natural gas producing regions: the Middle East, the Caspian Region, Russia, Venezuela, and the North Sea. Producer-consumer relationships are considered for China, India, Japan, and the United States. United States foreign policy implications, especially with respect to China, are discussed.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
S-Lab: Laboratory for Sustainable Business
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How can we translate real-world challenges into future business opportunities? How can individuals, organizations, and society learn and undergo change at the pace needed to stave off worsening problems? Today, organizations of all kinds—traditional manufacturing firms, those that extract resources, a huge variety of new start-ups, services, non-profits, and governmental organizations of all types, among many others—are tackling these very questions. For some, the massive challenges of moving towards sustainability offer real opportunities for new products and services, for reinventing old ones, or for solving problems in new ways. The course aims to provide participants with access and in-depth exposure to firms that are actively grappling with the sustainability-related issues through cases, readings and guest speakers.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Author:
Sarah Slaughter
Date Added:
01/01/2008
Solving Complex Problems
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12.000 Solving Complex Problems is designed to provide students the opportunity to work as part of a team to propose solutions to a complex problem that requires an interdisciplinary approach. For the students of the class of 2013, 12.000 will revolve around the issues associated with what we can and must do about the steadily increasing amounts CO{{< sub "2â€ >}} in Earth’s atmosphere. 12.000 is a core course for the MIT Terrascope freshman learning community. Each year’s class explores a different problem in detail through the study of complementary case histories and the development of creative solution strategies. It includes training in Web site development, effective written and oral communication, and team building. Initially developed with major financial support from the d’Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in Education, 12.000 is designed to enhance the freshman experience by helping students develop contexts for other subjects in the sciences and humanities, and by helping them to establish learning communities that include upperclassmen, faculty, MIT alumni, and professionals in science and engineering fields.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Author:
Samuel Bowring
Date Added:
01/01/2009
Sustainability: Political Economy, Science, and Policy
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This course examines alternative conceptions and theoretical underpinnings of sustainable development. It focuses on the sustainability problems of industrial countries, and of developing states and economies in transition. It also explores the sociology of knowledge regarding sustainability, the economic and technological dimensions, and institutional imperatives, along with implications for political constitution of economic performance. 17.181 fulfills the underGraduate / Professional public policy requirement in the Political Science major and minor. Graduate / Professional students are expected to explore the subject in greater depth through reading and individual research.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
The Sustainability Response to COVID-19
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This course explores the importance of public transportation to social and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and seeks to identify approaches to restoring transit ridership, with a focus on Metro Boston. We will attempt to (1) understand whether and how the COVID-19 pandemic can advance sustainable mobility, and specifically the role(s) of public transportation in the COVID-19 recovery process, and (2) identify policies and/or interventions that may encourage pre-COVID transit riders to return to transit and attract net new transit ridership.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
System Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World
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This one-day workshop provides a brief overview of system dynamics and a hands-on simulation experience. It also serves as a preview of the more in-depth coverage of the subject available in other courses offered at MIT Sloan.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
U-Lab: Leading Profound Innovation for a More Sustainable World
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15.975 U-Lab: Leading Profound Innovation for a More Sustainable World is an interactive and experiential class about leading profound innovation for pioneering a more sustainable economy and society. The class is organized around personal reflection practices, relational practices, and societal practices. It focuses on the intertwined relationship between the evolution of capitalism, multi-stakeholder innovation, and presencing.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Author:
Claus Otto Scharmer
Date Added:
01/01/2010
Urban Transportation Planning
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This course examines the policy, politics, planning, and engineering of transportation systems in urban areas, with a special focus on the Boston area. It covers the role of the federal, state, and local government and the MPO, public transit in the era of the automobile, analysis of current trends and pattern breaks; analytical tools for transportation planning, traffic engineering, and policy analysis; the contribution of transportation to air pollution, social costs, and climate change; land use and transportation interactions, and more. Transportation sustainability is a central theme throughout the course, as well as consideration of if and how it is possible to resolve the tension between the three E’s (environment, economy, and equity). The goal of this course is to elicit discussion, stimulate independent thinking, and encourage students to understand and challenge the "conventional wisdomâ€ of transportation planning.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Water Resource Systems
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This subject is concerned with quantitative methods for analyzing large-scale water resource problems. Topics covered include the design and management of facilities for river basin development, flood control, water supply, groundwater remediation, and other activities related to water resources. Simulation models and optimization methods are often used to support analyses of water resource problems. In this subject we will be constructing simulation models with the MATLAB® programming language and solving numerical optimization problems with the GAMS optimization package.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Water and Sanitation Infrastructure in Developing Countries
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This course deals with the principles of infrastructure planning in developing countries, with a focus on appropriate and sustainable technologies for water and sanitation. It also incorporates technical, socio-cultural, public health, and economic factors into the planning and design of water and sanitation systems. Upon completion, students will be able to plan simple, yet reliable, water supply and sanitation systems for developing countries that are compatible with local customs and available human and material resources. Graduate / Professional and upper division students from any department who are interested in international development at the grassroots level are encouraged to participate in this interdisciplinary subject. Acknowledgment This course was jointly developed by Earthea Nance and Susan Murcott in Spring 2006.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022
Water and Wastewater Treatment Engineering
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This course is an overview of engineering approaches to protecting water quality with an emphasis on fundamental principals. Theory and conceptual design of systems for treating municipal wastewater and drinking water are discussed, as well as reactor theory, process kinetics, and models. Physical, chemical, and biological processes are presented, including sedimentation, filtration, biological treatment, disinfection, and sludge processing. Finally, there is discussion of engineered and natural processes for wastewater treatment.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Date Added:
07/14/2022