BS in Materials Engineering
Materials Engineering Department
Both hard and soft copy submission of assignments make an impact on the environment to produce the final product in terms of energy consumption and carbon emissions; an investigation was conducted as to which method is less environmentally impactful. Student disposition towards each assignment submission method was also investigated because it is associated with learning efficacy. A survey was conducted in Cal Poly’s Materials Engineering Department to determine the contributing components to the environmental impact of paper and electronic assignments, as well as the students’ disposition towards each of them. Contributing components are man-made products used by a student to complete one homework assignment and they were chosen based on the pre-defined project scope and the survey results. They were then analyzed using life cycle assessment (LCA). Under the specifications discussed in this report, paper assignment submission results in 1.30 MJ of energy consumed per assignment, while an electronic assignment consumes 0.633 MJ of energy. The global warming potential (GWP) of paper assignments was 57.6 g CO2 and of electronic assignments was 32.6 g CO2. The largest contributing components of each submission method were subjected to a sensitivity analysis, which showed that the results are strongly dependent on the length of the assignment and the time it takes to complete the assignment.