STEM Education Research
in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Education for the Protection of Water Resources on the Pine Ridge Reservation
To promote sustainable water resource management on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Drs. Jennifer Benning, Scott Kenner and Foster Sawyer (GeolE) and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Environmental Protection Program partnered together on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) education grant for the protection of water resources on the reservation. This partnership represents an innovative co-management approach towards protection of water resources through education. A multi-tiered environmental education project was created with the aim of advancing critical watershed management components. Solutions were generated through sustainable localized adaptation strategy and provided for the integration of numerous organizations’ resources while facilitating accomplishment of each organization’s mission. As a result of this project higher-order technical watershed management processes been integrated to fill needs within the Oglala Sioux Tribe Non-Point Source management plan.
Creativity on Engineering Design Teams
Creativity is a core competency for engineers, fundamental to the process of innovation. The US National Academies of Engineering specifically call out creativity as a necessary attribute of future engineering school graduates; despite this and the fact that creativity and innovation are ubiquitous terms in discussions of the role of engineering in today’s society, the need to develop creativity as a skill has not developed a stronghold in traditional engineering curriculum. Using the construct of a design competition, Dr. Andrea Surovek in collaboration with Dr. Dean Jensen (IEEM) are examining how large of a role individual and aggregate measures of team creativity plays in design processes. The results may have implications on recommendation for how design teams are assembled in the pursuit of innovation.
Pre-engineering Collaboration with Oglala Lakota College (OLC)
This NSF supported project establishes collaborative offerings of gateway and bottleneck courses that occur in the first two years of engineering curricula coupled with hands-on laboratory and service learning experiences. Courses are being offered using a combination of lectures, laboratories, and online distant deliveries through the 11 OLC Centers on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The primary project objective is to increase recruitment and retention of Native American students in pre-engineering and engineering programs across South Dakota. Civil engineering, geological engineering, and environmental engineering fields are the focus of this pilot project. Curricula designed for the program include classroom instruction at OLC, SDSMT, and SDSU, real world experiences through service learning projects, and extensive interaction with cultural and community leaders. Contact Dr. Foster Sawyer (Dept of Geology and Geological Engineering) for more information.