Sustainable Design Field Camp

April 19, 2012

CGN 4931 Sustainable Design Field Camp (Special Topics Course) OR EEL 4903 Sustainable Design Field Camp (Cross-listed)
(Summer C 2012) Course Lectures: 6/19, 6/26, 7/3, and 7/10 for 2 hours in evening
Field Dates: July 16 to July 31
Maximum Number of Students: 16


Dr. Christopher J. Brown, Cell Telephone: (904) 742-0191
Dr. Alan Harris, Cell Telephone: (405) 818-9909
Dr. John Nuszkowski, Telephone: (904) 620-1683
Office: CCEC, Rooms 2100 & 3122
Email: christopher.j.brown {at} unf(.)edu; alan.harris {at} unf(.)edu; john.nuszkowski {at} unf(.)edu
Class Hours: Weekly 2 hour seminar and 6 field trips
Office Hours: TBA

Required: Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge for the 21st Century, Preparing the Civil Engineer for the Future – Appendix L, ISBN-13: 978-0-7844-0965-7
Required: Introduction to Solar Photovoltaics, Trainee Guide, First Edition, ISBN: 978-0-1321-3726-3

Required: Arizona Water Atlas – Volume 2 and 6 Overview (Provided Electronic Copy)

Notes and handouts regarding renewable energy and thermoelectric power generation

Excerpts from “Cadillac Desert” by Marc Reisner

Recommended Travel websites for region:

Overview of course: This Transformational Learning Opportunity will provide 16 students enrolled in CGN 4931 or EEL 4903, Sustainable Design Field Camp, opportunities to engage in sustainable engineering design, engineering project field trips, service learning, and direct field instrumentation installation in the magnificent natural setting of the American Southwest during the Summer C 2012 session. Sustainable Design Field Camp is designed as an intensive, active-learning 45-hour field course where students, organized into 4-person teams, are immersed in an unfamiliar and sensitive natural environment where sustainable design practices are critical. We know that active learning enhances engineering education (Lindsay et al., 2009). By using field trips, community experts, and service-learning, it is expected that the course will result in highly engaged students. Over a 2.5-week period students will work on a class project design as well as participate in 6 field trips to an array of engineering projects focused upon sustainable engineering design related to mineral resources, water, waste, and both conventional and alternative energy. Students will be exposed to a wide variety of project sites including the Glen Canyon Dam, Navajo Generating Station, Las Vegas Valley recharge project, Invanpah solar plant, Mercator Minerals metals mine, Red Rocks National Recreation Area, and Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. At each field site, the class will meet with subject-matter experts experienced with the project and included specifically to construct a coherent community of practice. Confirmed outside leaders include scientists from the Bureau of Reclamation, Las Vegas Valley Water, Mercator Minerals, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and the Salt River Project.

In addition to the extraordinary field trips, students will partake in two service learning design activities with the community. First, the class will work with Xanterra Parks and Resorts at Zion National Park to plan, model, and design a zero food waste facility to service the park. Xanterra Parks and Resorts is one of the largest park hospitality companies in the world and is committed to environmental sustainability and community service. The class will present Xanterra with design concepts and costs toward the end of the field course. Second, the students will work with the Bureau of Land Management or the Nature Conservancy to plan, design, and implement improvement projects at either the Red Rocks National Recreation Area in Las Vegas, Nevada or the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve near St. George, Utah. Projects under consideration by the Bureau of Land Management include solar powered scientific instrumentation or communication equipment. Projects under consideration by the Nature Conservancy include developing solar powered lighting, developing micro-GPS tracking devices for the rare desert tortoise, and developing emergency communication equipment using alternative energy. In essence, the students will engage with specific scientific learning communities at each project site focused on active learning tasks. The field visits and service learning projects will be supplemented by a 3-hour evening seminar facilitated by Drs. Brown and Harris where student teams will present summary field trip reports and discuss relevant sustainable design concepts important to each project site. Several seminars will be held at UNF prior to field mobilization while students will attend one seminar onsite. Students will visit three National Parks in the region, including Grand Canyon, in order to understand and reflect upon the unique environmental setting for the projects visited. Lastly, during the 2.5 week adventure, students will also be afforded some free time to reflect upon what they have learned and to conduct some independent exploration.

This is a course for students preparing for a career in engineering, construction management or applied environmental science (e.g., biology). Students will gain knowledge and skills in field engineering and sustainable design practices including field mapping, geologic mapping, alternative energy, hydroelectric power, groundwater hydrology, waste management, ethical conduct, project delivery methods, and communications all in the context of the amazing American Southwest. This course will be taught as an “away” course for Summer C 2012.

Students will be exposed to a wide variety of project sites including the Glen Canyon Dam, Navajo Generating Station, Las Vegas Valley recharge project, Brightsource Energy solar plant, a subsurface metals mine, Red Rocks National Recreation Area, and Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. At each field site, the class will meet with subject-matter experts experienced with the project. Also, 4-person class field teams will conduct assigned field exercises at specific project sites. In addition, students will partake in two service learning activities with the community. First, the class will work with Xanterra Parks and Resorts at Zion National Park to plan, model, and design a zero food waste facility to service the park. Xanterra Parks and Resorts is one of the largest park hospitality companies in the world and is committed to environmental sustainability and community service. Second, the students will work with the Bureau of Reclamation or Nature Conservancy to plan, design, and implement improvement projects at either the Red Rocks National Recreation Area in Las Vegas, Nevada or the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve near St. George, Utah. Projects under consideration by the Bureau of Land Management include solar powered scientific instrumentation or communication equipment. Projects under consideration by the Nature Conservancy include developing solar powered lighting, developing micro-GPS tracking devices for the rare desert tortoise, and developing emergency communication equipment using alternative energy. The two service-learning projects will directly engage the students into civic projects that are meaningful. Also, the relationship with the community leaders for each project will be reciprocal such that both the students and the community members are afforded new knowledge and learning.

Student participants will spend 16 nights in Las Vegas, Nevada and Kanab, Utah studying sustainable design issues during the course. Las Vegas will serve as the trip gateway due to its low cost non-stop flight options and moderately priced hotel suites. Students will stay at the Homewood Suites in Las Vegas (or similar) where they will stay in 2-room suites and a similar hotel in Kanab, Utah to be decided. Each student will also be provided breakfast and some dinners for the duration of the course.

There are several objectives for this away course. As a Community-Based Transformational Learning (CBTL) course, many of these objectives align with University-wide outcomes for CBTL ( Such alignment is noted below (under specific course learning objectives) by putting the appropriate CBTL outcome in parentheses next to the course objective. The three CBTL outcomes integrated with the summer course include:

• Intercultural Competence: Demonstrable cognitive, affective and behavioral skills and characteristics that support effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural contexts.

• Ethical Character: Ability to recognize ethical issues in a variety of settings and evaluate alternative actions.

• Effective Citizenship: Demonstrable knowledge, skills, values and motivation that promotes the quality of life in a community.

Specific course learning objectives and outcomes:
Upon successful completion of this course, the students will:

• Develop an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability (Intercultural Competence)
• Describe the key elements of sustainable design in the context of sensitive natural environments. (Effective Citizenship)
• Develop important experiential field skills that are directly transferable to industry.
• Develop familiarity with engineering issues in a new region of the United States. (Effective Citizenship)
• Develop an understanding of environmental ethics related to engineering project development. (Ethical Character)
• Develop the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context. (Intercultural Competence)
• Demonstrate team skills and communication skills through the development of personal journals, design reports and trip/field reports as well as presentations to service learning collaborators. (Intercultural Competence, Effective Citizenship)

Prerequisites: Approval by the Faculty Leader includes interview and essay.
Cost: The trip will cost approximately $3,000 including tuition for a normal UNF 3-credit course. The cost of the trip includes airfare, transportation, lodging, meals, maps, local program elements, and field equipment. For those students eligible for a transformational learning opportunity (TLO) grant, the cost will be approximately $2,100 to $2,200 per student depending upon total number of students enrolled.
Lodging: In order to keep the costs down, students will normally stay in double-occupancy suites in Las Vegas and Kanab.

A reasonable estimate of the other “out of pocket” expenses that will be needed is $150 – $200 per student.

IV. ACADEMICS: There are 5 graded components:

1. Design report and presentation developed by each 4-person team. Each team will plan, model, and design alternatives for the zero food waste facility at Zion National Park. The design report will include design narrative, drawings, and some basic specifications.

2. Two weekly group field trip reports. Each 4-person team will develop a short report each week to be submitted electronically to the leader. The trip or field reports will be developed following each week of trips and visits to National Parks. Prior to the scheduled field trips, the students will attend a 2-hour evening seminar. During the seminar, the leaders will discuss the upcoming field trips as well as planned field exercises. During the last 30 minutes of each seminar, the leader will conduct small focus sessions with each 4-person team to discuss learning objectives and progress.

3. Development and maintenance of a personal reflective journal of trip activities. The personal reflective journal will be submitted by each student at the end of the course. The personal reflective journal format will be prescribed by the course leaders and an electronic journal template will be provided for the students to use. The personal reflective journals will provide an opportunity for each student to use deep reflection to think about field trips, community-of-practice leaders, and service learning projects. Personal journal information may be used for post-course assessment and UNF-wide assessment purposes as noted below.

4. Participation during study tour: Punctuality, respectfulness (of everyone, but especially of the native population and customs) is required. Students are expected to be inquisitive, attentive, and participatory during all site visits. Failure to behave in the appropriate manner will result in a failing grade in the course.

5. Group presentation: Each 4-person team will present a 20-minute presentation summarizing their project design of the zero discharge food waste facility for management representatives of Xanterra. Each team member must present a portion of the presentation. The presentation will be developed during the course off-hours and will be presented to Xanterra representatives during the final week of the course.


Students will earn grades according to the following scheme:
Due Description of Activity % of Final Grade
Last Wk Design Report 30%
Weekly 2 Park Trip Reports 20%
Ongoing Personal Reflective Journal 20%
Ongoing Participation during study tour 10%
Last Wk Group Presentation 20%
All presentations must utilize PowerPoint and be well-organized, informative, concise, and coherent. In addition to content, presentation style and clarity will be graded. All reports will be developed in Word and/or Adobe Acrobat.

Grades are assigned on a 100-point scale: 90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D, 0-59=F. Plus / minus grades will be used at the instructor’s discretion. All work must be done and submitted/presented on time. Group and student assignments may be submitted electronically via email to christopher.j.brown {at} unf(.)edu or through the Blackboard course assignment drop box. Any work turned in or presented late will be penalized at the rate of 10% per day against the maximum value of the work. Work turned in more than a week late will get a zero for the assignment. This penalty applies regardless of the legitimacy of the excuse with the exception of legitimate medical emergencies. In particular, computer and printer problems, whether due to hardware or software, will not get you any special treatment. There will be no exceptions. Plan ahead, back up computer work, and don’t procrastinate.

University-Wide CBTL Assessment Statement:

The University of North Florida is committed to providing quality education and to assuring that students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful after they graduate. Assessment of student learning provides information needed to make improvements in UNF programs, course content, and teaching. During this course your instructor will collect and submit samples of your work to determine program effectiveness.

You should know that:
• You may choose not to have samples of your work submitted by notifying your instructor anytime during your course via email.
• No identifying information such as your name or N-number will be included on the samples sent for program assessment.
• Your course grade will not be affected by participating in this program assessment process.
• Information about the summative results of this assessment is reported to UNF stakeholders, including the Board of Governors of the Florida State University System; the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; and professional accreditors.

It is anticipated that CBTL assessment information for the course may be disseminated in presentations and journal articles so that the benefits of the course can be discussed in a scholarly manner. No identifying information will be used in any such scholarly work derived from the course assessment.

The field camp will take place in the American Southwest. Temperatures in July can vary from near freezing in the mountains at night to 110 deg F in low desert areas during the day. Therefore, proper field gear is essential including sun glasses, hats, suntan lotion, compass, water/Gatorade, and bug spray. Zion National Park is located above 5,000 feet in elevation. Florida residents may not be accustomed to the high elevations and are encouraged to allow for some period of acclimation time. Also, fitness preparation for the course is encouraged.

UNF places high priority on and strives to uphold the highest standards of academic integrity while protecting the rights of students and faculty. Should any instructor find evidence of cheating, plagiarism, or other inappropriate assistance in work presented by a student, the instructor should inform the student of the action to be taken (UNF current catalog).
At minimum, the action I will take for any incidence of violation of academic integrity will be an F (failing grade) in the course and dismissal of the student committing the violation from the class.

Students with disabilities who seek reasonable accommodations in the classroom or other aspects of performing their coursework must first register with the UNF Disability Resource Center (DRC) located in Building 10, Room 1201. DRC staff members work with students to obtain required documentation of disability and to identify appropriate accommodations as required by applicable disability laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). After receiving all necessary documentation, the DRC staff determines whether a student qualifies for services with the DRC and if so, the accommodations the student will be provided. DRC staff then prepares a letter for the student to provide faculty advising them of approved accommodations. For further information, contact the DRC by phone (904) 620-2769, email (kwebb {at} unf(.)edu), or visit the DRC website (

Students are expected to remain polite during classroom and at field visit discussions. Even during heated debates, you must treat your instructors, classmates and the locals with respect. Violation of this policy will result in a reduction of your class participation grade that, if the violation is significant enough, could result in a failing grade for the class. For example, you should not make derogatory remarks about your classmates’ ideas. Instead, explain why you think they are wrong, backing up your viewpoint with sound analysis and refraining from personal attacks. Another example is being quiet while someone else (including your instructor!) has the floor.

While you are away, you are representing not only yourself, but also the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction, the School of Engineering, the University of North Florida and the State of Florida. Remember that any interaction that you have with the native citizens of the area you are visiting can leave a lasting impression, especially if you violate native sensibilities. Keep in mind that citizens of every region are proud of their heritage. Therefore, when you are abroad, you should strive not just to be aware of cultural differences, but also to experience and appreciate them. Try the local foods, even if you don’t think you’ll like them. However, if you are allergic to certain types of foods or you have other food restrictions you must let me know prior to the trip.

During site visits, you should behave in a professional and businesslike manner. Field clothing attire is typically appropriate as discussed above. Be inquisitive and show your interest in the host company/project site, but remain respectful at all times. In general, you should never use familiar forms of address (e.g., first names) unless you are specifically invited to do so. The bottom line is that you will enjoy the trip more and be more productive while you are abroad if you know what you will be facing before you leave home and you are willing to be open-minded and culturally sensitive while you are abroad. Reading books about the region you’ll be visiting is a great way to prepare yourself.

While you are away, you are subject to the national, regional, and state laws of the region you are visiting. If you violate these laws, you can expect to be apprehended, charged, tried, and (if convicted) penalized (which may include fines, imprisonment, deportation, or other measures). It is your responsibility to know these local laws and to abide by them. In general, behaving in a mature, civilized, and respectful manner will keep you out of trouble. Please note that students remain subject to UNF’s academic misconduct code and all violations will be dealt with according to the UNF process.

Since you are subject to host state laws, you may legally drink alcohol if your age exceeds the local drinking age. Typically, the drinking age in the United States is 21. Under-aged drinking will not be tolerated. However, you must remember that you are in a part of the country that you don’t know very well. You are strongly discouraged from becoming intoxicated while you are abroad. Remember that local customs like right-of-way rules between cars and pedestrians may be quite different than those in the Florida. If you are under the influence of alcohol, you will be more apt to forget this fact and less able to react if you do. In fact, being hit by automobiles is the number one cause of serious injury to Americans abroad. Also, to avoid trouble, do not drink if you are alone or with strangers, but only if you are with one (or preferably several) people from our group.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: There are places in Jacksonville that you would not visit alone or at night. Similarly, there are places that you should not be in every major city abroad. There might even be entire regions of the area that you should avoid. Ask responsible locals (e.g., faculty or students associated with the program, hotel staff) and use your common sense when you are abroad. Travel only in groups, especially at night and especially if you are a woman. Do not go to the bathroom alone, especially in a bar (again, especially if you’re female).

We will use the buddy system at all times. You will be responsible for keeping an eye on your partners (roommates) and watching out for them. In addition, the faculty member should know where you are at all times, especially if the group is moving (e.g., boarding a local tram or bus, boarding a train, moving through an airport, walking through a firm’s plant). Do not leave the group without telling the faculty member.

Pickpockets thrive in tourist zones (both abroad and in the US). If you carry a wallet, never carry it in your back pocket, where it is easiest to steal. Put it in your front pocket and keep your hand on it. Better yet, invest a few dollars in an alternative way of keeping your money and passport (e.g., a pouch that attaches to your belt and that you can store inside your pants). If you carry a purse (strongly discouraged), be extremely careful. Always keep it closed. Never carry it at your side or on you hip, as skilled pickpockets can unzip it and remove items without your knowing it. If you carry it with the strap over your shoulder, be aware that some thieves will ride past you on a bicycle or motorcycle and grab the strap. Not only will they get away with your purse, you are likely to be seriously injured in the process.

Thieves often work in pairs or groups. One common tactic is for one person to distract you (e.g., asking for directions, pretending to be falling-down drunk) while others steal your valuables. This is especially effective in a crowded subway car or in a crowded tourist area. Be on the alert in such places!

Be sure that you have a list of your credit card numbers and/or travelers check numbers in a safe place that is separate from your cards and checks. Better yet, leave this copy with friends or family members in Florida.

Schedule for Sustainable Design Field Camp
June 19 – July 31, 2012
Date City Time Activity
6/19, 6/26, 7/3, 7/10 Jax 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Course lectures at UNF.
7/19 Las Vegas 3:00 pm
All Day
7:00 pm
10:00 am Students arrive in Las Vegas to start field class.
Free time for students.
Evening 2-hour seminar.
Visit Mercator Minerals Mine.
7/23 Las Vegas 9:00 am
9:00 am
Add Day
8:00 am Visit Invanpah Solar Plant in Mojave Desert.
Visit Red Rocks National Recreation Area.
Free time for students.
Visit Las Vegas Valley recharge project.
7/29 Las Vegas
8:00 am
10:00 am
10:00 am
9:00 am
9:00 am
All Day Service learning project at Red Cliffs Preserve.
Visit Glen Canyon Dam.
Visit Navajo Power Plant.
Service learning project at Zion NP/Xanterra.
Visit Grand Canyon NP.
Free time for students.
7/31 Kanab
Las Vegas All Day
All Day Drive back to Las Vegas, NV.
Fly back to Jacksonville/course over.


Away Course Sustainable Design Field Camp, Nevada and Utah
Preliminary Budget
Preliminary Trip expenses
Per Student
Airline to Las Vegas $515
Local Transportation Fee $10
Room/Board – includes 3 meals per day $1,455
Maps , Misc. Supply Fee $30
Course Cost for 3-credits $420
Leader Costs $584
Grant Discount ** = 0
Total Trip Cost ~ $3,014
**Expenses will be reduced by $900 for eligible students due to award of TLO grant.

School: University of North Florida
Professor: Christopher J. Brown
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