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CE 446 a & b: Innovation in Engineering Design for Global Challenges I & II
Undergraduate Level

The course aims to teach engineering students how to lead the design of products, services and technologies with a human-centered approach to help solve the needs of the real people who are in the middle of these crises. The course is geared towards students who would like to create new solutions, are comfortable with focusing on wicked problems, and care about cultural, economic and geographic nuances. The course is built on the principles of “create, collaborate, innovate.” The course provides students with an understanding of the design process, research methodologies and innovation strategies using a team-based project work through the process of observation, visualization, rapid prototyping and iteration. The course has two parts: Part 1 (Fall semester) and Part 2 (Spring semester). Over the course of one year, 24 USC students in Los Angeles and 12 refugees in a host nation will form a taskforce to seek at least four life-saving or life-improving innovations aimed at the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people impacted by the refugee crisis. These innovations will involve connection to the private sector and input from affected communities in order to provide, supply, or locally generate solutions such as: safe drinking water and sanitation, provision of energy, education, life-saving information, shelter or services to help refugees living in camps and in squats.

Course Website:

Media Coverage about our Course: 

2019 Viterbi Awards, Min Family Challenge, Spring 2019

Lives, Not Grades, USC Viterbi Magazine, Spring 2019

Partnering Academia and Engineering Diplomacy:

Answers to Global Challenges, March 2019

USC students go into refugee camps, Viterbi News, September 26, 2018

CE 670: Advanced Research Methods for Built Environment Informatics
Graduate Level

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the advanced research methods in the area of informatics for intelligent built environments. Specifically, the course focuses on the following research areas: (1) adaptive and responsive built environments; (2) building informatics; and (3) built environment and end-user interactions. Students are first introduced to the concepts, approaches and implementation issues associated with intelligent built environments. Then, students are introduced to the research methodologies for informatics for intelligent built environments including the types of data that are collected for intelligent built environments, data acquisition systems, and processing techniques. Students also gain experience with designing research through hands on research assignments. This course is taught by Dr. Burcin Becerik-Gerber.

CE 570: Building Information Modeling for Collaborative Construction Management Graduate Level

The course promotes project-based learning through cross-disciplinary, geographically distributed, virtual project team collaboration. It focuses on BIM specialty applications and investigates construction management technologies including construction simulations, model based estimating, energy analysis, clash detection and code compliance. Students work in multidisciplinary project teams to simulate design, engineering and construction processes for actual projects selected in collaboration with industry partners. In 15 weeks, students focus on collaboratively designing and engineering optimal solutions, by utilizing information technology and their individual strengths – problem solving from engineering students, design from architecture students, and schedule, cost, quality control and overall management from construction management students. By providing a cyber-learning platform, where students from multiple disciplines can work together, students are able to test ideas, principles, and practices in the way to become creative and innovative practitioners. In addition, students collaborate with their peers in another institution, exploring virtual project collaboration and role-based learning. This course is taught by Dr. Burcin Becerik-Gerber.

CE 470: Building Information Modeling and Integrated Practice
Undergraduate Level

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a centralized data-rich virtual project model that facilitates documentation, design exploration, model-based quantity take off and estimating, interference checking, construction coordination and sequencing, digital fabrication and 3D building information capture and visualization. In this course, students learn BIM’s use in the industry (by different disciplines), examine geometry, spatial relationships, building information, quantities and properties of building components, and understand the benefit and improvement areas BIM offers. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is a project delivery approach that is almost a prerequisite for successful BIM projects. It integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that helps optimization of project results, increases value to the owner and end user, reduces waste, and maximizes efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, construction and life-cycle of the structure. This course focuses on the role of BIM in the AEC industry and it covers recent developments in the area of IPD, both of which have a great potential to better project outcomes and maximize efficiency. In addition, the course brings cutting edge and emerging technology solutions into the classroom and tries to link these solutions into the BIM environment. This course is taught by Dr. Burcin Becerik-Gerber.

CE 505: Data Management
Graduate Level

Currently, civil and environmental engineers are experiencing explosive growth in  both generating and collecting data. This course introduces the basics of data acquisition hardware and software, the basics of databases and database management systems as applied to engineering problems in general and civil and environmental engineering problems in specific. The focus is on the relational data model, with an introduction to object modeling. The course lectures emphasize database concepts and theory, and an introduction to data warehousing and data mining concepts and techniques and knowledge discovery in databases principles applied to engineering problems/data in general and civil engineering problems/data in specific. The course lectures emphasizes on issues relating to the feasibility, usefulness, efficiency and scalability of techniques for the discovery of patterns hidden in engineering databases. This course is taught by Dr. Lucio Soibelman. 

CE 599: Sustainability in the Built Environment 
Graduate Level

The construction industry is the biggest consumer of natural resources. As a consequence that many materials used by the construction industry are not available anymore around big cities. Increasing the complexity of this issue is the fact that the construction industry is the largest waste producer. The construction industry supply chain impact on the environment is related to global warming, both as a factor adding to global emissions and as sector that will be affected by climate change. Cement industry alone is responsible for 8% of the anthropogenic CO2 and it is expected to rise up to 30% of the total at 2050. Commercial and residential buildings are responsible for about 50% of the electricity consumption in Brazil and 70% in the US. Many big cities are facing water crisis and the construction industry needs to develop new sustainable water management solutions. These and many other problems like indoor air quality, contamination of the environment by dangerous construction materials like asbestos, lead paint, VOCs. These make the construction industry an extremely important part of the environmental agenda. This class uses IPodia and is offered in real time in collaboration with the University of São Paulo in Brazil,. Students work together in the US and in Brazil. The course introduces the topic of sustainable development for the built environment witha  focus on buildings and urban infrastructure, compares sustainability related issues for the developed and developing countries. This course is taught by Dr. Lucio Soibelman. 

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