Introducing real-world hydrology case studies into an undergraduate civil and environmental engineering curriculum

Thorsten Wagener, Sarah Zappe

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Hydrology, the study of the movement and storage of water in the environment, originated as an engineering discipline mainly concerned with the estimation of floods and droughts. Since then, hydrology has evolved into one of the earth sciences and deals with water related issues in complex environmental systems at scales ranging from local to global. Current and future water issues require inter-disciplinary scientific approaches to provide solutions to engineering problems, often including significant social components. Climate and land use change introduce non-stationarities into the environment that many of the current engineering tools cannot consider, while a growing population continuously increase the stress on available water resources, particularly in less developed countries. An introduction to hydrology remains an important part of the general civil and environmental engineering curriculum. However, the changes in the science of hydrology have not yet fully propagated into a changed approach to teaching this important subject. We present the results of a three-semester long study in which we introduced real world case studies into a large (70-90 students) civil engineering undergraduate class to achieve this change. Over the past several semesters, students have expressed overwhelmingly positive thoughts on the course adjustments made, including the cases and other active learning elements utilized. We show and discuss evidence of the positive impact on student learning due to the closer link between the course material and real-world examples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Event2008 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Pittsburg, PA, United States
Duration: Jun 22 2008Jun 24 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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