College of Integrated Science and Engineering

Professors Publish Engineering Textbook


By: Daniel Vieth

Though some may only treat it as the new buzzword, sustainability is a concept that has been growing in importance as science has found new ways to think about and analyze the connection between humans and the environment. Despite this recent focus, however, few have worked on developing college curricula that integrate sustainability into existing fields of science. Driven by the necessity for a holistic textbook that focused on sustainable design, engineering, and environmental impacts, Dr. Brad Striebig and Dr. Bayo A. Ogundipe from JMU’s Department of Engineering and Dr. Maria Papadakis from JMU’s Department of Integrated Science and Technology combined their expertise to fill this need. After three years of work, the team published their new textbook, Engineering Applications in Sustainable Design and Development, this past January. 

Engineering Applications in Sustainable Design and Development is an innovative textbook that brings together multiple perspectives on sustainability, defines the concept for today’s engineers, and quantifies sustainability across the many different aspects of human activity. As Papadakis described, the textbook blends the principles of engineering design, applied environmental science, and the social context of engineering with respect to culture, societal needs, and human centered design. “The book is really about how an engineer approaches sustainable design issues,” further explained Ogundipe. “It’s about the different considerations Engineers should have and what other techniques, methods and tools they should use when they’re working on any project.”

Though the authors had originally discussed the idea years ago, the writing of Engineering Applications in Sustainable Design and Development officially began in 2012 when Striebig reached out to Papadakis and Ogundipe with the idea of creating a textbook to compliment the Fundamentals of Sustainable Engineering and Design course being taught at JMU. “One of the reasons why we wanted to write this book was because we didn’t have one to use. My joke is that I was waiting for many colleagues across the country to write this book for a long time, and eventually I gave up waiting and decided to just do it,” laughed Striebig.

As the authors worked, the textbook evolved from its original concept of a simple textbook into a more holistic learning tool. “In the beginning we just wanted to get down on paper the stuff we knew we wanted to use in our classes, but the publisher’s editorial staff got very excited about the book once they understood where it was going and what its market potential was,” explained Papadakis. “Over time they upgraded the book into a full color text that’s supported with a website, student learning tools, chapter problems, a solutions manual, and an international edition.”

Although it’s intended for junior and senior engineering students, the book was written in a way that nearly any anyone in a sustainable science curriculum could use it, such as environmental science, environmental policy, geology, or even economics. “It’s not an introductory text for people with no science background, but even without the more quantitative chapters anyone can still take away quite a lot conceptually,” said Papadakis. “It’s a really comprehensive book,” added Ogundipe. “Maybe not all of the chapters would work with all programs, but professors should be able to find a couple of chapters and sequences that would work well with them.”

Another critical aspect of this book is the incorporation of national and international case studies from the author’s and other JMU faculty’s experiences. “We have case studies from nations like Benin, Malta, Kenya, and Rwanda that we were able to incorporate because of the many international experiences here at JMU. This international element is a big part of the textbook, as sustainability really is an international issue.” said Striebig. “We got to share some of the things we’re doing here at JMU, which is especially innovative for undergraduate course work. I think we are on the forefront of adopting this type of sustainability classes at JMU.”

So far the book has received interest and excitement from the publishers, and the authors expect to see other teachers from around the nation and world incorporating the book into their curriculums this upcoming Fall semester. “The hope is that this is the beginning,” added Ogundipe. “We’re hoping that we can continue strengthening the book through our experiences and feedback, and that sustainability will be a standard class in every engineering program.”

More than a buzzword, the concept of sustainability is offering us ways of protecting Earth’s resources and understanding the dynamics that sustain the planet and the human community. “The goal of this textbook is to empower people through engineering and science to overcome the issues of sustainability and meet the needs of folks today and folks tomorrow,” said Striebig.

If you would like to learn more about the textbook, please visit the publisher’s website at

Published: Friday, February 13, 2015

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2016

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