Advanced Urban Infrastructure Planning

8 07 2014

This fall, I will be offering a new course on Advanced Urban Infrastructure Planning (UAP 5854G) with Yehyun (Hannah) An. The course description is provided below. The course can be counted as an elective for the Graduate Certificate in Global Planning and International Development Studies.

ImageDescription: Urban infrastructure systems play a critical role in facilitating economic development and raising quality of life. However, the resource, energy, and capital-intensive characteristics of infrastructure can result in negative environmental and social impacts. Over the past two decades, the concept of sustainability and how it can be incorporated in the planning, design, and development of new infrastructure has gained significant attention. Sustainability principles have also been applied to the management of existing infrastructure.

This course will explore the emerging concepts, principles, and methodologies used to advance sustainable urban infrastructure planning. In particular, it will study national and international cases of infrastructure development, with an emphasis on projects in the US and India.

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. describe an infrastructure system using accurate terminology;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the main concepts and principles of infrastructure planning;
  3. identify the key features of a sustainable infrastructure system and explain how they promote sustainable development;
  4. apply analytical tools for infrastructure planning;
  5. critically evaluate infrastructure cases/projects/proposals through the lens of sustainability; and
  6. identify the gaps between theoretical principles of sustainable infrastructure and their application in practices.

Time: Tue & Thu 11:00am─12:15pm

Location: Architecture Annex 111

Credits: 3

Happy Retirement Sandy!

26 06 2014

Tomorrow, Sandy Graham will be retiring from her position as office manager for the Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) program at Virginia Tech. Sandy has been working at Virginia Tech for 25 years and has been with UAP for the past five years. Prior to coming to UAP, Sandy worked for the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management. The images below were taken at her retirement party last night at the University Club.

On behalf of all the UAP faculty and students, I’d like to congratulate Sandy on reaching this milestone and thank her for all of her years of service and dedication to our program and the university.

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Teaching Sustainability

24 06 2014

Last Wednesday, I joined Joe Zietsman (Texas A&M), Damon Fordham (Cadmus), and Ann Xu (Georgia Tech) in New York for a discussion of Education and Practitioner Training to Promote Sustainability. We were invited to speak at the TRB ADC60 summer conference on Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure.

To prepare for my presentation on “Teaching Sustainable Development/Transportation in Institutions of Higher Education,” I reviewed the past decade of research captured in the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. I also read papers from journals such as Sustainability Science and the Journal of Cleaner Production. For those new to this subject area, I recommend the following articles that provide useful frameworks or discuss important pedagogical approaches:

BrainstormingAfter absorbing this material, I tried to visually capture the various approaches, theories, competence areas, etc. that emerged (see photo). This visual patchwork of ideas laid the foundation for my presentation that focused on the following four questions:

  • —What knowledge and skills do students need to learn?
  • —How should we promote ‘Sustainability in Higher Education’ (SHE) – e.g., top down vs. bottom up?
  • —How do we change the hearts and minds of faculty?
  • —What should be the role of non-academic entities – e.g., government agencies, private businesses, and NGOs?

While I was only able to briefly respond to these questions in my presentation (below), the literature I cite on my slides (and listed above) should provide a useful starting point for anyone interested in learning more about theories on how to teach sustainability.



Teaching Using Google Glass and Apps

3 06 2014

The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy has just published a Tool Tips article I wrote on how I’m using Google Glass and Apps to support my teaching at Virginia Tech. The multimedia format of the journal offers a unique opportunity to embed pictures and videos in the article that provide a rich context to the platform I’m using and what students thought of the experience.


Welcome IITK Scholars

23 05 2014

This morning we held our first IITK-VT partnership summer meeting, during which we welcomed three visiting scholars from IITK to Virginia Tech. Anshita AgrawalAbishek Saraf, and Saurabh Dixit will be spending eight weeks at Virginia Tech working with Prof. Sunil Sinha, Prof. Brian Kleiner, and me. The scholars will undertake research focusing on resilient water infrastructure, construction safety, and sustainable infrastructure development, and will support the development of a new course on urban infrastructure that will offered this fall semester.

The pictures below were taken during our meeting using Google Glass.

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Congratulations James Bryce!

21 05 2014

PictureOn May 2, 2014, James Bryce successfully defended his dissertation in Civil Engineering. His research focused on how to model the environmental impacts of infrastructure management alternatives applied to pavements. James found that by modifying infrastructure management approaches slightly, the energy consumption attributed to the lifecycle of a pavement network can be reduced significantly. By developing an approach to visualizing the interaction between the most cost effective approach and the approaches where energy consumption is minimized, James created a way for transportation agencies to make more informed decisions regarding the environmental and economic impacts of their pavement management plans.

James will begin a position as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham (UK) in July as part of the Sustainable Pavement & Railway Initial Training Network, a project commissioned by many partner institutions throughout the European Union.  The focus of his research will be to define sustainability assessment factors and current state of the art sustainable practices within the European road and rail network.

I served on James’s doctoral committee with Gerardo Flintsch (Committee Chair), Nadarajah Sivaneswaran, Christian Wernz, and Pam Murray-Tuite.

The pictures below were taken through Google Glass during James’s defense.

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Congratulations Nathalie Graham!

21 05 2014

DSCN1353bOn April 16, 2014, Nathalie Graham successfully defended her capstone project for her Masters degree in Natural Resources. Nathalie’s project examined extended producer responsibility (EPR), a policy approach that aims to incentivize greener design and internalize the full environmental costs of a product by making its producer responsible for its entire life cycle. She analyzed EPR laws in the European Union and the United States to develop policy recommendations for packaging waste in the US.

In addition to her Masters degree from Virginia Tech, Nathalie holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and International Relations from the University of California, Davis. Before graduate school, Nathalie worked for several environmental and corporate accountability organizations.

I served on Nathalie’s committee with Desiree Di Mauro (committee chair) and Kieran Lindsey.


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