College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences
EGR501 – Topics in Sustainable Systems, Fall 2009
TuTh 9:35-10:50 am, Engineering Room 234 (3 credit hours)
Module 1: Dr. Allison Kipple, Electrical Engineering, Office 264
Module 2: Dr. Dieter Otte, Computer Science, Office 219
Module 3: Dr. Peter Vadasz, Mechanical Engineering, Office 260
Module 4: Dr. Rand Decker, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Office 313
Office hours will be posted on Vista and near each instructor’s office door.
Materials will be posted on Vista and / or distributed in class.
Introduction to sustainability in the natural environment, energy and the built
environment, and their relationship to engineering, plus ecoinformatics.
In this course, you will work as part of a team of graduate students to investigate an
emerging research topic related to sustainability. You will learn fundamental research
skills and techniques which will aid both your EGR501 team investigation and your
personal thesis research. The course instructors will additionally provide content and
assign homework activities related to sustainability topics in their areas of expertise.
Aug. 25 – Introduction
Module 1 (Allison Kipple)
Aug. 27, Sept. 1: Developing a research question…related to sustainability.
(Teams created, topics identified, advisors selected by Sept. 3)
Sept. 3: Project management techniques. Literature review of a research topic.
(Team project timeline, taskings, and literature review due Sept. 10)
Sept. 8, 10: Contemporary issues related to the power transmission grid.
(Individual paper due Sept. 17)
Sept. 15, 17: Numerical analysis as a research tool; numerical analysis of power flow.
(Analysis due Sept. 22)
Module 2 (Dieter Otte)
Sept. 22-Oct.1: Modeling and simulation techniques, the Kepler project.
(Oct. 1: Team status report and taskings due)
Oct. 6: Sustainable Informatics. Results on analysis of existing simulation due.
Oct. 8: Mini-paper on simulation project/presentation due (related to sustainability
Module 3 (Peter Vadasz)
Oct. 13-29: Power generation techniques. Analytical research methods. Graphical
representation of analytical formulations.
(Oct. 22: Team status report and taskings due)
Oct. 29: Report due, Analysis of the economic and environmental impacts of various
power (electricity) generation techniques.
Nov. 3, 5: Effective technical presentations and reports.
(Nov 10: Team final report template and outline, status and taskings due.)
Module 4 (Rand Decker)
Nov. 10, 12: Delineating critical natural resource systems. Observations as a
Nov. 19-20: Field trip (Hoover Dam, Nevada Water Authority – no class Nov 17).
Nov. 24: Mega-resource presentations.
Nov. 26: No class (Thanksgiving).
Dec. 1, 3: Team project presentations.
Dec. 8: Team project final report due (in place of final exam).
Student Learning Expectations / Outcomes
Develop an appropriate research question related to sustainability.
Conduct a high quality literature review related to sustainability research.
Utilize project management techniques to successfully complete a research project in
the area of sustainability.
Write effective technical papers, both individually and in teams.
Produce effective technical presentations.
Demonstrate an understanding of and ability to utilitze a variety of research
techniques (e.g., analytical, numerical, and experimental) to analyze sustainability
Demonstrate a deep understanding of several important sustainability issues,
including the economic, environmental, social, and legal aspects of these issues.
All team assignments will be submitted to Dr. Kipple and each team’s advisor(s). With
the exception of the final presentation, all team assignments will be graded
collaboratively by Dr. Kipple and the team advisor(s). The final presentations will be
graded by all EGR501 instructors. All other assignments will be graded by the
Assignments will be weighted to calculate the final grade as follows:
Team Assignments 40%
Final report, 15%
Final presentation, 15%
Other assignments, 10%
Notes: Project complexity and completeness will significantly affect the final report and
presentation scores. Individual grades for team assignments will be modified by
Module 1 (Numerical Analysis, Electrical Grid) 15%
Module 2 (Modeling & Simulation, Informatics) 15%
Module 3 (Analytical Techniques, Power Generation) 15%
Module 4 (Observation Methods, Mega-Resources) 15%
Letter grades will be determined by combining all team and module scores, using the
weights listed above. The composite percentage score will be translated to a standard
letter grade as follows:
A ≥ 90, 90 > B 80, 80 > C 70, 70 > D 60, F < 60
Participation, Make-up Assignments
Attendance and active participation is critical for this class. Participation includes all
course related activities including class sessions and team meetings outside of regular
class hours. If you have reason to miss a class, you must notify the instructor ahead of
time and make appropriate arrangements with both the instructor and your team. Late
assignments will not be accepted. With the exception of the field trip, make-up
assignments will not be available.
This course will be conducted in accordance with all applicable departmental, college,
and university policies. For example, students should be familiar with and must conduct
themselves in accordance with the following policies:
NAU Student Code of Conduct:
Safe Working and Learning Environment:
Students with Disabilities:
Institutional Review Board:
Academic Integrity Guidance: