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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Next week, I will be assisting with a new girls engineering camp. In the past I've developed and conducted a bioengineering camp here at the University of Illinois in conjunction with GAMES (Girls Adventures in Math and Engineering Sciences).

As I am no longer affiliated with Bioengineering but wanted to stay involved, I've been taken on as a consultant for the new camp, Environmental Engineering.

The camp will look at the following aspects of the environment that engineers help to evaluate and solve problems to increase human comfort while also maintaining a healthy environment for every living thing.

gummy/Slide1.jpgWhen a biologist/scientist speaks of the environment, we are concerned with ecosystems (forests, grasslands, marine environments, etc.,), the elements needed to maintain life (air, water, space), populations within those ecosystems (of flora, fauna and humans), and the issues within those populations  such as balance of appropriate flora and fauna where imbalances present themselves in the form of extinction and invasive species. Humans in particular influence changes in biodiversity, create solutions to feed the world through agriculture, and produce waste and pollution and influence climate change.

Scientists and engineers work together to find more about these issues and to learn best how to evaluate them and then create solutions, of which we now know need to be increasingly sustainable. We need to consider how our negative influences can be reversed and step forward when we design or redesign our living spaces and communities to have minimal negative influence on the world.

As we look at the topic of renewable energy, each girl at the camp will be receiving a copy of Maggie Koerth Baker's  book Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before it Conquers Us and we will also be treated to a Skype conversation with her during the week!

There are many books out there on the various topics related to environmental science and engineering. Some of the most popular include:

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond about societies and populations.

Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America by Thomas Friedman 

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson about air and water pollution. Truly a classic!

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan about the ecology of the food we eat.

Sustainable Energy without all the Hot Air by David JC MacKay, a clearly understandable and fun book about renewable energy sources.

For issues concerning conservation and extinction, I recommend these two books:

 

There are so many more marvelous books on any of these topics. If you are with Goodreads, you might check out this list of books of relevance, too. 

 

Do you want to learn more about Environmental Science, in particular, Sustainability? The University of Illinois is offering a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) called Sustainability: a Global Introduction, starting August 27, running for 8 weeks, that will cover these topics:

Week 1: Introduction & Population pessimism vs. optimism: Demographics, neo-malthusians and the disappearance of the third world

Week 2: Ecosystems, Extinction & Tragedy of the Commons A theory that threatens to doom us all?

Week 3: Climate Change The climate of the near future: hot, hotter, or hottest?

Week 4: Energy What happens when we reach “Peak Oil” Renewable energy: is there enough to make the switch?

Week 5: Agriculture and Water Can we continue to increase food production - or have we reached the limit of what the land can support?

Week 6: Environmental Economics and Policy Can economists lead the way to sustainability?

Week 7: Measuring sustainability How do we know we're making a difference?

Week 8: Ethics and Culture the long view

You can learn more about their free textbook, Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation HERE

 

Tue, July 10, 2012 | link 


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