Collaborative Research: Training Next Generation Faculty and Students to Address the Infrastructure Crisis
This NSF TUES Type 2 project is establishing the Center for Infrastructure Transformation and Education (CIT-E) as the centerpiece of a community of practice. The aim is to facilitate the transformation of undergraduate civil and environmental engineering programs by incorporating infrastructure topics into their existing curriculum. This project builds upon the sophomore-level courses and other modules on civil infrastructure developed by the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and the Civil Engineering program at West Point Military Academy. The six collaborating institutions are of varying sizes, student population, and settings (Arizona State University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Norwich University, Portland State University, Rowan University, and University of Toledo). The project objectives are to: 1) establish and sustain the Center for Infrastructure Transformation and Education (CIT-E) as the source for infrastructure education materials that can be continuously improved by a community of practice, 2) develop educational expertise in infrastructure topics and in pedagogy in faculty at collaborating institutions, 3) deliver, assess, and institutionalize infrastructure-themed courses or modules for CEE and other majors at collaborating institutions, 4) enhance the ability of CEE students to view components and systems designed in CEE sub-disciplines as integral parts of the larger infrastructure system, and 5) enhance the ability of CEE students to view infrastructure challenges from a societal, rather than solely technical, perspective.
The project employs a creative model that engages collaborating faculty in roles of content creators and module maintainers of the infrastructure-themed course material to develop and sustain the community of practice. In addition, a structured plan to facilitate the adoption and institutionalization of infrastructure curricular material at the six collaborating institutions, and provide faculty development and support is used.
More than 500 students and fifteen faculty at eight diverse institutions, including some with large numbers of underrepresented minority students, are directly impacted by the project activities, increasing the number of students and faculty with knowledge and expertise in sustainable infrastructure topics. A community of practice centered on CIT-E and multiple faculty development workshops is employed to facilitate the dissemination and adoption of the curricular material and practices developed in this project.