Mike Wierusz teaches one of the first courses in the country purely focused on sustainable engineering and design (see class website – SEDlabs). Quite fitting considering in his previous life he was a LEED AP mechanical engineer! In just his second year of teaching, Mike has focused on working closely with industry and local academic institutions to bring real world connections into his classroom. As many students and Mike will attest, this is one of the most powerful aspects of the course. With “smart collar” jobs in energy and environment on an exponential growth path and the technology moving even faster, Mike believes real world connections and applications are paramount to preparing and educating this next generation of green leaders.
For the 2011/12 academic year, his students are taking on two major real world projects. The first is the retrofit of a cargo trailer into a mobile green learning lab. This is a 100% student direct project. The students have selected “jobs” based on their areas of interest – marketing, project manager, graphics, sustainability, education, etc. The education and sustainability team are working with Earth Day Network to incorporate renewable energy into the mobile learning facility. The hope is to get a pilot version of the green learning lab on the road late spring 2012.
The second major project of this academic year is a project in collaboration with the American Association of Geographers. As part of a global classroom collaboration endeavor, Mike’s students will be conducting a sustainability assessment and future planning document of their local business park. The timeline of the assessment will coincide with collaboration of other schools around the world who are working on similar projects. The AAG will then package all these projects into one presentation which will be streamed live at the UN Sustainable Development conference in Rio, Brazil.