Sustainable Design & Technology Program Profile

What is sustainable technology?
The UNs Bruntland Commission1 defined sustainable technology as technology that provides for our current needs without sacrificing the ability of future populations to sustain themselves, and noted that sustainably engineered solutions require multidisciplinary approaches and consideration of diverse perspectives. For Vermont, sustainable technology is an old concept whose time has come again. Its the practical, common sense application of technology to solve everyday problems in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner. Successful Vermonters have practiced sustainable technology for hundreds of years on farms and in businesses.

Is sustainability a fad, or an impractical ideology? No. Sustainability means doing things better not doing without.2 Embracing a sustainable approach to life and business will require major changes in education and practice, but is our best way forward.

Can we move nations and people in the direction of sustainability? Such a move would be a modification of society comparable in scale to only two other changes: the Agricultural Revolution of the late Neolithic, and the Industrial Revolution of the past two centuries. These revolutions were gradual, spontaneous, and largely unconscious. This one will have to be a fully conscious operation, guided by the best foresight that science can provide. If we actually do it, the undertaking will be absolutely unique in humanitys stay on earth.
                                                          - William D. Ruckelshaus (R)3
                                                          Former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Program Mission Statement: The Sustainable Design & Technology degree allows students to pursue one of three concentrations: Green Buildings; Green Energy; or Green Sites. What does green mean? Green means energy-conserving, renewable and environmentally friendly. These concentrations are unified by a philosophy of sustainability that seeks to apply technology creatively to reduce our impact on dwindling resources, to help individuals and businesses thrive and comply with green regulations, to grow new green businesses and expand Vermonts emerging Green Valley economy.

Degree Offered
This program offers a +2 bachelor's degree in Science to students who have graduated from, or are currently enrolled in, a technical associate's degree program at Vermont Tech or other institutions.

Program Summary and Goals
Sustainable Design & Technology is across-disciplinary program grounded in the belief that students who understand the fundamentals of technology, business, and the regulations that govern both can be effective agents for sustainable change. The program seeks to create graduates committed to using technology to grow Vermonts Green Valley economy, act as stewards of our environment and resources, and to educate Vermonters who understand the need to create a more sustainable college and community and can participate in a growing movement for a green way of life. While environmental and sustainable curriculum are common at liberal arts institutions, technical institutions have lagged behind.4 This program fills that gap and provides Vermont businesses with sought after employees who have a blend of technical skills, project management and communication skills.5

Two-year technology graduates will spend two years in a curriculum that emphasizes application of technology in service of sustainable goals, and an understanding of the fundamentals of business, regulation, and permitting. Students will enter on one of three tracks: Green Energy; Green Buildings; or Green Sites. The Green Energy track focuses on traditional and alternative means of producing, using and conserving energy. Green Buildings involves the creation and renovation of residential and commercial buildings that conserve energy without sacrificing function and design, and are built with sustainable materials, with a goal of LEED certification. Green Sites focuses on responsible design, engineering and creation of building sites (residential and commercial), roads, farms, and water systems in order to minimize environmental impact, improve quality of life, and promote an ethic of stewardship of the land and our natural resources.

The programs first year uses a team approach to problems solving, bringing together teams of students from different technical backgrounds to emphasize that success always requires the cooperation and communication with people of diverse viewpoints. The curriculum balances technical skills with a sustainable perspective and ethos, and interpersonal skills. Summer internships pair students with companies and institutions using or considering green technologies. Senior projects will solicit problems from the college and larger community to engage cross-disciplinary teams in hands-on learning and community service. Graduates will use critical thinking skills and cost-benefit analysis to determine whether, when, where and how green or sustainable technologies can be applied.

Prerequisites & Core Requirements
Applicants must have an associate's degree, be enrolled in an associate's degree program, or have completed sufficient credits of related technical education. Prospective students who do not meet these requirements are strongly encouraged to enroll in, or transfer into, one of the Vermont Tech's associate's degree programs to prepare for application to the Sustainable Design & Technology Program.

Program curriculum is organized into four cores areas: Sustainability, Business, Green Technical Track, and General Education (English, math, science, arts & humanities). All students in the SDT program take a common set of courses in the Sustainability, Business, Green and General Education cores. Students also take a number of courses specific for the track they have chosen to pursue: Green Energy; Green Building; or Green Sites.

The minimum number of credits for the SDT bachelor's program is 120, though the total number of credits required for each track varies (see the curriculum map for details). Half of all credits must be obtained at Vermont Tech.

Career Opportunities
Program graduates are prepared to work in Vermont's growing 'Green Valley' community of environmentally-focused businesses, and as project managers and technical staff who can help conventional businesses flourish in Vermont and other environmentally friendly and regulated states. Program graduates may hold a specific technical associate's degree, in addition to the SDT bachelor's degree, and possess a rare blend of technical skills and education that serves as the foundation for critical thinking, problem solving, and project management on issues related to natural and technical resources, energy production, consumption, and efficiency, environmental impact; and economic viability. Graduates pursue a wide range of career opportunities based on their technical backgrounds, work experience and internship experiences. For non-traditional and incumbent students entering the program with work experience, this bachelors degree affords greater opportunity for career advancement with the skill needed to succeed in business environments. Individuals who run companies, small to large, in the maintenance, design/build or construction/installation fields should find this program to be relevant and valuable.

Graduates are prepared to pursue additional post-baccalaureate education in business, environmental law studies, or technical fields.

Enrollment Information
Students with technical associate's degrees, and those interested in beginning their education at Vermont Tech, may apply to this program. Related associate's degree programs at Vermont Tech include Architectural and Building Engineering Technology, Construction Practice and Management, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology, Automotive Technology, Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology, Dairy Farm Management Technology, and Landscape Design and Ornamental Horticulture. Students entering Vermont Tech as freshmen may customize their freshman and sophomore curriculum if they do not desire an AAS degree. Transfer students from related programs at two- and four-year colleges and non-traditional students interested in career change are strongly encouraged to apply. Depending on the candidates prior academic study, candidates may be required to make up certain introductory level courses or may test out of certain required courses based on acquired knowledge and background. Application requires review of transcripts, letters of reference and an entrance essay.

Prospective students should contact the admissions office, or SDT program faculty.

Campus Locations
The Sustainable Design & Technology Program is offered at Vermont Tech's Randolph Center Campus. Some related technical associates courses and SDT program courses are offered in on-line or hybrid formats.

The Sustainable Design & Technology Program is currently seeking accreditation through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

1The Bruntland Commissions Report, Our Common Future, UN, 1987
2David Suzuki,
3Ruckelshaus, William D. "Toward a Sustainable World." Scientific American Sep. 1989: 166-174.
4D. Rowe, Environmental Literacy and Sustainability as Core Requirements: Success Stories and Models, Teaching Sustainability at Universities (2002), Walter Leal Filho, ed, Peter Lang NY.
5Personal communication: Jay Paterson, Director of Vermont Techs Technology Extension Division

Profile last updated 1 Oct 2006