A global effort to accelerate sustainable engineering
Engineering for One Planet (EOP) is a global initiative working to equip all engineers across all disciplines with the fundamental skills and principles of environmental and social sustainability.
All engineers will be equipped to design, build, code and invent with people and the planet in mind.
Mobilized by The Lemelson Foundation and VentureWell with input from hundreds of stakeholders across sectors, the EOP initiative seeks to establish 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 industry demand and collective will to transform the engineering profession to encompass 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 striving to make sustainability a fundamental part of all 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 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 directly co-developed the first EOP Framework in 2019 through public comments and discussions.
Five academic institutions representing a geographic mix of public and private universities across the U.S. piloted curricular changes 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 helped test and revise the EOP Framework and generated teaching tools, implementation models, and learnings for broader adoption of the Framework among engineering programs.
- ASU modified 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 created 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 generated faculty collaboration to expand the reach of EOP across ASU. Team tip: Thinking about environmental protection and sustainability in engineering isn’t about creating another kind of engineering; it’s just good engineering.
- OSU integrated 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 reached 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. Team tip: Enthusiasm around environmental, social and economic sustainability is strong. Leverage this energy to build relationships among students, faculty and industry partners that support and are supported by EOP.
- UCF approached curricular change through this grant using on a “multi-sided market” approach including faculty, students, and administration. The UCF team has inserted elements of the EOP Framework into several courses and exposed other faculty to the concepts and goals of the program through a training. Team tip: The EOP movement is very timely and important to the future of our planet, arming engineers with the tools and collective wisdom needed to make a difference.
- UMD introduced the EOP Framework in several required courses in Civil and Environmental and Mechanical Engineering. In two years, the team impacted more than 1200 students and nine courses, developed a recycled parts library, and created a number of teaching resources. Team tip: Not unlike the problems we are preparing our graduates to solve, we are not afforded the luxury of inaction. Much must be hashed out in-process as we learn by implementing.
- Villanova’s approach to curricular change focused on faculty capacity-building. The team developed and delivered intensive four-day faculty workshops to help faculty integrate learning outcomes from the EOP Framework into courses they were already teaching and worked with them to assess the effectiveness of their methods. This bottom-up approach allowed faculty to select the outcomes that fit into their courses most naturally. Team tip: Leverage existing sustainability efforts on your campus and take advantage of the links to ABET outcomes to drive assessment.
The EOP Advisory Group (AG) met as a group for the last time in May 2022. During EOP’s launch phase (2020-2022), the EOP AG provided strategic advice on the EOP initiative. Advisors included students and professionals with experience in academia, industry and the public sector who are passionate about advancing sustainable engineering. Thank you, EOP advisors:
Climate Change & Sustainability Innovator
Kit Batten Consulting
Environmental Defense Fund
Senior Program Officer,
The Lemelson Foundation
Executive Director & CEO
American Society of Mechanical Engineering
Founder & CEO
Global Sustainability Director, Performance Building Solutions & Corian Design
Culture Strategist, Adyton PBC
Co-Founder, Ashoka U
Engineer/Scientist in Carbon Capture and Sequestration
Electric Power Research Institute
PhD Candidate in Chemical & Environmental Engineering
The Lemelson Foundation
The University of Texas at Austin
The Anne Shirley Carter Olsson Professor of Applied Ethics, Department of Engineering and Society
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, University of Virginia
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. This impact-driven network provides an opportunity to work with people from diverse backgrounds who share a commitment to redefining engineering education to equip all engineers with fundamental skills in environmental and social sustainability. Participants actively shape the work of the EOP Network, identifying and pursuing projects and collaborations that further the network’s purpose. To learn more and apply to join the EOP Network, click here. If spots are full, you will be added to the waitlist.
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 email@example.com.
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A global effort to accelerate environmentally and socially conscious engineering
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