Shines! University Engineering Students Advancing Duluth's Sustainable Development

Mary Christiansen, Alison Hoxie, Mindy Granley, Jodi Slick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The implementation of project-based learning and subsequent collaborations between the university and a nonprofit, local utilities, and area businesses, originally aimed at giving senior-level engineering students experience in realworld problem solving within the area of sustainability, has resulted in a successful model for community engagement. Semester-long projects involved pairing student groups in civil and mechanical engineering sustainability classes with local businesses interested in conducting feasibility studies that ranged from increasing the energy efficiency of their organization to implementing renewable energy technologies. Each project involved meetings with business owners, site visits, and energy assessments conducted by the local electric utility, activities that required the students to hone both their professional and technical skills. These projects represent a unique opportunity to provide a practical educational experience, and by leaving the projects open ended, students have had to utilize their creativity and problemsolving skills to a greater degree than is required by traditional classroom instruction. Additionally, by giving control of the project to the clients, students had a more real-life experience. Impacts on the citywide and university-wide sustainability efforts have been far reaching, including new partnerships and collaborations between the City and university and a network of internship opportunities for engineering students within the community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-363
Number of pages5
JournalSustainability (United States)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge Ecolibrium3, University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), Swenson College of Science and Engineering (SCSE), UMD Department of Civil Engineering, UMD Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Minnesota Power, City of Duluth, and the local businesses that have participated in Shines!

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2017, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc..


  • collaboration
  • community
  • engineering
  • professionalism
  • solar
  • sustainability


Dive into the research topics of 'Shines! University Engineering Students Advancing Duluth's Sustainable Development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this