2018 Syllabus

Course Description:  This experiential learning course gives students a first-hand look at how Costa Rica has used their natural resources to develop a sustainable community at both the local and national level.  By visiting EARTH University (Escuela de Agricultura de la Region Tropical Humeda) in the tropical rain forests of Costa Rica, students will learn how this tropical community is balancing the preservation of their natural resources with agricultural and energy needs of their societies.  A large portion of this class will focus on the myriad of ways power is generated for the community, from traditional hydropower to renewable energy sources.
Students will have a chance to engage in an immersive cultural exchange with the people of Costa Rica.  There is more to engineering design than just technical performance.  It also has to be balanced with the localities social, societal, environmental, and economic concerns.


Contribution to the Professional Component: Introduction to Sustainable Engineering and Latin America Culture, an elective course for Facilities and Energy Systems Engineering, requires that students utilize the fundamental knowledge from other courses in the program, such as: mathematics, physics, and mechanics.  This course contributes 3 semester hours to the engineering topic requirement.


Relationship of Course Objectives to Program Educational Objectives: Introduction to Sustainable Engineering and Latin America Culture supports the following Program Educational Objectives: all five of the Intellectual Learning characteristics listed in MMA course catalog.

Class Schedule: This is an experiential learning experience.  This is no class schedule.

Course Objectives: At the conclusion of this course the student will be able to:

  1. Basic understanding of sustainable design
  2. Basic understanding of local Costa Rican agricultural, energy, and farming projects, such as; biodigesters, hydropower, aquafarming
  3. Basic understanding of local Costa Rican culture

Grading Policy: Grades will be assigned per the grading policy detailed in the MMA Course Catalog.  The semester grading will be compiled as follows:

  1. Pre-Trip paper                                             20%
    Before the trip, students should prepare a short paper (approximately 1000 words) on one of the topics that they will be covering while at EARTH University (i.e. biodigesters, aquafarming, Costa Rican culture, etc).  This paper is due before the trip is taken and the paper will be presented before we leave for the trip.
  2. Trip participation and discussion            30%
    During the trip, students will be expected to participate in group activities.  It is required that students bring a notebook/journal so that observations can be recorded.  During the first week, students will be recording a short video detailing their experiences in Costa Rica.  Students are encouraged to make one social media post per day.
  3. Post-Trip Presentation (Group)                25%
    Each group will prepare a poster that summarizes their technical report and/or summary of their experiences at Earth University. Posters will be displayed in the Engineering Department and at the MMA Welcome Aboard Weekend and groups could be asked to present at Welcome Aboard.
  4. Post Trip Videos                                          25%
    During the trip, the group leaders will be taking video of each group of students.  At a minimum, each student will make a video of:    
    1. 3 brief statements (in the airport on the way down, at the midpoint of the trip, in the airport on the way home) answering the questions
      1. What do you think you will get out of the trip
      2. What you think about the class so far
      3. Did the experience meet/exceed/fail-to-live-up-to your expectations?
    2. A “this was my trip video”

All post-trip items are due by 15 March.


Disclaimer: The professor retains the right to change this syllabus.  The class will be notified when any changes occur.