A global effort to accelerate environmentally sustainable engineering
Engineering for One Planet (EOP) is a global initiative working to equip all future engineers across all disciplines with the fundamental skills and principles of environmental sustainability.
All engineers will be equipped to design, build, code and invent with the planet in mind.
Mobilized by The Lemelson Foundation and VentureWell with input from hundreds of stakeholders across sectors, the EOP initiative seeks to create systemic change by establishing environmentally sustainable engineering as a core tenet of the profession. To achieve this, the initiative provides a roadmap for integrating fundamental principles of sustainability into engineering education to support the health of the planet and the lives it sustains.
Engineering education must cultivate engineers and inventors who design and build for the smallest environmental footprint possible.
Engineers have outsized impact on the world. From new products to new buildings and modes of transportation, an engineer’s decisions regarding design, source materials, production, distribution, and disposal can make a difference on whether their work contributes to or mitigates environmental impact. However, most engineering students are not equipped to apply the core principles of sustainable design and environmental responsibility.
More than ever, there is increasing demand and collective will to transform the engineering profession to address environmental sustainability.
Students, professionals, educators, consumers, corporations and governments around the world are demanding greater responsiveness to planetary protection. Organizations like the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and professional engineering associations are highlighting the need to accelerate the integration of competencies of environmental sustainability across engineering education.
Transform engineering education to ensure all future engineers, no matter their discipline, are equipped with the skills, knowledge, and understanding to design, build and create in environmentally sustainable ways.
The Engineering for One Planet initiative brings action-oriented people together and provides catalytic resources to build a community that can transform engineering education.
The EOP community envisions a world in which all engineers will be equipped to avoid negative environmental and social impacts while striving to create inclusive and regenerative solutions that protect our planet and the life it sustains.
The EOP Framework offers a menu of learning outcomes designed for flexible adoption into engineering courses and programs across all engineering disciplines.
Developed with input from hundreds of academic and industry professionals, the EOP Framework represents core environmental sustainability competencies relevant to all engineers from all disciplines. With seed funding from The Lemelson Foundation, five universities are piloting curricular changes using the EOP Framework. The lessons learned and tools developed from these pioneering efforts are being shared to facilitate changes in other programs and institutions.
Collaboration among diverse groups and sectors is necessary to achieve and sustain systemic change in engineering education.
Mobilizing the community for collaboration and tapping into diverse lived experiences and expertise will help accelerate educational and institutional transformation. The EOP initiative represents the work of hundreds of collaborators from academia, industry, philanthropy, government and nonprofits, and aligns with the U.S. engineering accreditation body ABET and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The EOP network will bring them together to identify opportunities for collaborative actions.
The EOP Framework
Co-developed with experts from academia and industry, the Framework was designed to be widely adaptable and adoptable by engineering faculty and administrators, and is structured around core student learning outcomes under the categories of “systems thinking,” “knowledge and understanding,” and “skills experiences and behavior.”
1. Systems thinking
Systems thinking is a critical approach for engineers to understand that designs rely upon and exist within systems, to identify the impacts and influences of the different and interconnected environmental, economic and social factors of the design system and to recognize that their designs themselves are systems.
2. Knowledge and understanding
Theories and concepts that are critically important to become competent, environmentally sustainable engineers are divided into topic areas of environmental literacy, social responsibility, and responsible business and economy.
3. Skills, experiences, and behavior
A series of interdependent and interconnected skills, experiences and behaviors are divided into technical skills, including environmental impact measurement, materials choice and design, and leadership skills, including critical thinking, communication and teamwork.
The EOP Community
The EOP initiative mobilizes a growing international community of hundreds of collaborators and advocates who have the expertise and leadership to institute systemic change in engineering education, including stakeholders from academia, industry, philanthropy, government and nonprofits. Funded by The Lemelson Foundation and launched in partnership with VentureWell, the EOP initiative includes hundreds of stakeholders. Among these, over 90 individuals from academia, professional associations, nonprofits, government and industry have contributed to the development and refinement of the first EOP Framework.
Five academic institutions representing a geographic mix of public and private universities across the U.S. are piloting curricular change based on the EOP Framework: Arizona State University (ASU), Oregon State University (OSU), University of Central Florida (UCF), University of Maryland (UMD) and Villanova University (Villanova). Funded in 2020 by The Lemelson Foundation, the two-year pilot program will help shape teaching tools, implementation models and learnings for broader adoption of the Framework among engineering programs.
- ASU is modifying a core, second-year course that uses project-based learning as a vehicle to deliver EOP Framework content to students across multiple engineering disciplines. Through this pilot project, ASU hopes to lay the foundation for continuing to develop pedagogical approaches for infusing the Framework into project-based learning classes, strategies for infusing the EOP across a curriculum, and generate a conversation among a critical mass of faculty who can collaborate to expand the reach of EOP across ASU.
- OSU is integrating the EOP Framework into students’ academic and social systems by leveraging a new, college-wide first-year engineering experience, revising existing upper-division classes, and creating a new co-curricular pathway. The project will reach students from all five engineering schools in the College of Engineering – Nuclear Science and Engineering; Civil and Construction Engineering; Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering; Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering; and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
- UCF’s initial hypotheses for approaching curricular change through this grant are based on their belief that there is a “multi-sided market” that needs to be addressed for the pilot to be successful, including faculty, students, and administration. The UCF Team is inserting elements of the EOP Framework into several courses and exposing other faculty to the concepts and goals of the program.
- UMD is introducing the EOP Framework in several of required courses in Civil and Environmental and Mechanical Engineering. Together they enroll 1550 undergraduate students, allowing a substantial change with significant impact. Rather than basing their effort on a single homogeneous departmental culture, the heterogeneity will teach them what is required to work together, for later expansion to other departments.
- Villanova’s approach to curricular change begins with faculty capacity-building. The team is developing and delivering intensive four-day faculty workshops. As part of the workshop the attendees create a plan to incorporate the EOP Framework into their classes and assess the effectiveness of their method(s). This bottom-up approach allows faculty to select the outcomes that fit into their courses most naturally
The EOP Advisory Group (AG) provides strategic advice on the EOP initiative, and includes students and professionals with experience in academia, industry and the public sector who are passionate about advancing environmentally sustainable engineering.
Climate Change & Sustainability Innovator
Kit Batten Consulting
Environmental Defense Fund
The Lemelson Foundation
Executive Director & CEO
American Society of Mechanical Engineering
Sr. Program Officer
Global Sustainability Leader, Safety & Construction
Co-Founder & Executive Director
BSE Candidate in Chemical Engineering
University of Michigan
Gerardo Valenzuela Mendoza
M.SC. Candidate in Civil Engineering
The University of Texas at El Paso
PhD Candidate in Chemical & Environmental Engineering
Sr. Director of Strategy
The Lemelson Foundation
Michael E. Webber
The University of Texas at Austin
Chief Science and Technology Officer
EOP AG Member Emerita Rosalyn W. Berne
The Anne Shirley Carter Olsson Professor of Applied Ethics, Department of Engineering and Society
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, University of Virginia
EOP AG Member Emeritus Don Norman
Director (Emeritus), Design Lab
University of California San Diego
In 2021, a group of more than 40 individuals and organizations from across the engineering system convened to launch the EOP Network. The goal of this impact-driven network is to bring diverse stakeholders together to figure out what we can do together that we could not do alone. Participants will actively shape the work of the EOP Network, identifying and pursuing projects and collaborations that further the network’s purpose.
Resources & News
Tools for Teaching and Learning
Academics and professionals experienced in environmentally responsible engineering recommended this list of resources for incorporating environmental sustainability into engineering education. [PDF]
This set of resources is intended to help inventor-entrepreneurs develop products that will improve people’s lives and generate profits—without putting additional stress on our resource-limited planet.
Guidance for weaving sustainability into existing courses on engineering and physics, industrial and product design, and business
Articles and Presentations
Reports and Whitepapers
This is a summary of the outcomes of a two-day roundtable which convened 20 sustainable engineering leaders from across higher education, nonprofit, business and government with the aim of creating a roadmap for defining and developing a framework for environmentally responsible (ER) engineering. [PDF]
This paper identifies the challenges collectively faced in developing environmentally responsible engineering programs and outlines a rationale and a theory of change for the initiative. [PDF]
For more information or questions about the EOP initiative, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up to learn more and receive news and updates about the EOP initiatives.
A global effort to accelerate environmentally and socially conscious engineering
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