Liam O’Brien – Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

As a professor teaching for the undergraduate-level Architectural Conservation and Sustainability Engineering program, my goal is to immerse students in building design process and also to have them reflect on the effectiveness of spaces for comfort and productivity.

All of my courses involve some experiential learning, though a few examples include:

  1. Assessing daylight quality in spaces on campus,
  2. Assessing indoor environmental quality in restaurants,
  3. Working with major community development firms to assist in designing sustainable neighbourhoods.

For the first two, I assign groups of students to choose a space, develop a methodology to evaluate the space, and then conduct a field study. For the last topic, I work with a group of five other engineering professors to conduct an eight-­month building design process with a group of about 40 engineering students.

Not only do the students perform technical design, but they also interact with real stakeholders (e.g., the developer and professional engineers), develop meeting agendas and minutes, and have a management structure.

We use cuPortfolio to have students reflect on their learning outcomes and profile their contribution to the project. Students are evaluated through a set of performance appraisals, where by three professors interview each student for 15 minutes