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  1. The academic preparation of scholars on infrastructure-related disciplines often takes place within isolated professional domains, rarely embracing an interdisciplinary approach for problem solving. The current work describes the implementation and outcomes from an undergraduate program designed to increase students’ awareness and knowledge of infrastructure vulnerabilities to students pursuing engineering and architecture degrees. The program, titled “Resilient Infrastructure and Sustainability Education -Undergraduate Program” utilizes the devastation from Hurricanes Irma and María for implementing an interdisciplinary case study methodology to understand and generate solutions to a variety of complex infrastructure challenges in a real-life setting. Project Based Learning (PBL) constitutes the theoretical model that frames this study. The sample included 23 undergraduate students, from architecture and engineering, and from three different campuses. All students completed a course sequence of 15 credits in design and construction of resilient and sustainable infrastructure. The results indicate that the program outcomes were achieved: development of interdisciplinary research skills and project design, hands-on solutions for real problems, awareness of human factors on project design, understanding of the importance and contribution of different disciplines and perspectives, and most important, developing the interest of putting into practice learned knowledge and skills in future projects. Students internalized the value ofmore »sustainability and resilience, in their coursework and future professionals, but also personally, applying these principles in their daily life. Students reported that their initial expectations about the program were either achieved or exceeded what they had foreseen. They considered a strength having three campuses and several disciplines working collaboratively.« less
  2. After a natural disaster, multiple disciplines need to come together to rebuild the damaged infrastructure using new paradigms. For instance, urgent restoration of services demand to abridge the projects’ schedule and provide innovative solutions, thus making collaboration and integration essential for the project’s success. Commonly, the academic preparation of scholars on infrastructure-related disciplines takes place in isolated professional domains, rarely tackling interdisciplinary problems and/or learn from the systematic research of previous experiences. In Puerto Rico, the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria has heightened awareness regarding the education on infrastructure-related disciplines to provide transdisciplinary solutions to pertinent complex challenges. This taxing context compels the academia to train a new cadre of professionals properly prepared in those STEM disciplines. Further, current public awareness of the vulnerability of the existing infrastructure creates an opportunity to recruit and prepare students to become those much-needed professionals. The present work offers the conceptual framework of a collaborative effort among Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) to develop an interdisciplinary program in resilient and sustainable infrastructure. The framework includes the development of transformational pedagogic interventions and changes that will challenge the disciplinary splits among AEC. The framework targets values and skills for inter and transdisciplinary problem solving,more »as well as helps smooth the transition from academic education to professional practice. To implement the initiative, the project created a collaborative platform among three campuses of the University of Puerto Rico System. Each of these campuses offers a different educational component relevant to the enriching educational initiative. We expect this approach to create a new breed of professionals ready to face the challenges posed for the development of robust infrastructure. The strategy fosters readiness in environmental design in engineering and construction through evidence-based design and inter/transdisciplinary problem solving. Thus, this research contributes to the body of knowledge by presenting a collaborative effort to train future professionals to design and build a robust infrastructure that can overcome the impact of major natural catastrophes.« less