Solid waste management is an integral part of the environmental engineering profession. At California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), solid waste management is taught as a required course in an undergraduate environmental engineering curriculum. The undergraduate course is described in Reference 1. This paper discusses the development of a graduate level integrated waste management course entitled "Resource and Energy Recovery from Waste", which uses a case study approach. The course focuses on resource and energy recovery technologies including composting, unit operations of resource recovery, recycling, and thermal waste conversion including combustion and gasification. The bioconversion of wastes in landfills and digesters is also covered. The course is a technical elective for undergraduates, and part of the core curriculum for master's degree students.

A unique feature of the course is the preparation of a design project which includes a preliminary design, cost estimates, and environmental impact analysis. The class is divided into four or more design teams which prepare design reports on a competitive basis. The teams are judged by the instructor and a design review panel of practicing professionals. The design project is an introduction to the "real world" of competition and teamwork, It has proven to be highly successful and of great benefit to graduates of the program as confirmed by alumni interviews.

The design project assignment is changed each year and is based on an actual project. Prior assignments have included designs of material recovery systems, composting systems, MSW combustion systems, and development or a county integrated waste management plan. The design project for the 1994 class was based on the resource recovery and recycling program which was established on the island of Kauai to process disaster debris after the 1992 Hurricane Iniki.


Civil and Environmental Engineering


URL: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cenv_fac/52