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Redesigning Writing Instruction Within a Lab-Based Civil Engineering Course: Reporting on the Evolution Across Several SemestersDevelopment of effective communication skills in engineering students is critical, yet challenging. As engineering programs are technically rigorous, work-intensive, and challenged by their high enrollment numbers, methods to improve students’ writing skills must be costeffective and scalable. This paper describes pedagogical changes and shares course materials designed to integrate core concepts from writing studies into an advanced laboratory-based civil engineering course. We incorporate language units developed by the Civil Engineering Writing Project that provide strong connections to professional engineers’ writing. Specific concepts that guided the redesign are genre awareness and flexibility, process orientation to writing, and global, prioritized feedback. Several semesters into the iterative implementation of these changes, teaching assistants observe greater student engagement, without an increase in teaching workload.
Our work aims to support engineering and science faculty in adapting core concepts and best practices from writing studies and technical communication for their courses. We also study the effectiveness of varied supports, with an aim of improving the diffusion of effective pedagogies. Our Writing Across Engineering and Science (WAES) program includes a semester-long faculty learning community, followed by sustained mentoring, during which faculty and graduate students from our multidisciplinary team work with mentees to develop and implement new pedagogies and course materials. For graduate students, we developed an engineering course focused on engineering and science writing practices and pedagogies. This paper focuses on one key finding from our analysis: discussions about writing practices involving people from different disciplines often involve irregular and sporadic bumpiness through which foundational changes can emerge. We call this phenomenon discursive turbulence. In our experience, signs of discursive turbulence include affective intensity and co- existing contradictory beliefs. We share four examples to illustrate ways in which discursive turbulence appears, drawn from people with varying degrees and types of engagement with our transdisciplinary work: i) project team members, ii) a faculty mentee, iii) faculty who participated in a focus group on disciplinary writing goals, and iv)more »
Biocatalytic technologies are characterized by targeted, rapid degradation of contaminants over a range of environmentally relevant conditions representative of groundwater, but have not yet been integrated into drinking water treatment processes. This work investigated the potential for a hybrid ion-exchange/biocatalytic process, where biocatalysis is used to treat ion-exchange waste brine, allowing reuse of the brine. The reduction rates and the fate of the regulated anions perchlorate and nitrate were tested in synthetic brines and a real-world waste brine. Biocatalysts were applied as soluble protein fractions from Azospira oryzae for perchlorate reduction and Paracoccus denitrificans and Haloferax denitrificans for nitrate reduction. In synthetic 12% brine, the biocatalysts retained activity, with rates of 32.3 ± 6.1 U (μg Mo) −1 for perchlorate ( A. oryzae ) and 16.1 ± 7.1 U (μg Mo) −1 for nitrate ( P. denitrificans ). In real-world waste brine, activities were slightly lower (20.3 ± 6.5 U (μg Mo) −1 for perchlorate and 14.3 ± 3.8 U (μg Mo) −1 for nitrate). The difference in perchlorate reduction was due to higher concentrations of nitrate, bicarbonate, and sulfate in the waste brine. The predominant end products of nitrate reduction were nitrous oxide or dinitrogen gas, depending on themore »