Engineering News Tips

If architecture is a material manifestation of society’s immaterial ideals, what would houses for Plato, Confucius, Descartes and LaoTzu look like? These and other influences of East-West culture and philosophy on architecture are being explored in a new senior capstone class this term at Washington State University.
Architecture Professor David Wang teaches Philosophy 435 to more than 30 students both at WSU Spokane and Pullman over the telecommunications network. The comparative examination of Western and Eastern (largely Chinese)
architecture and art illustrates how philosophies are physically expressed and makes students aware of their global integration.
Wang presents themes of classical art, nature and aesthetic experiences through readings from both Western and Eastern sources in philosophy and art/architecture theory. The end result is development of an appreciation for the universality of human experience as well as its divergent manifestations.
Wang came to WSU in 1997 after earning a doctoral degree in architecture
from the University of Michigan. His scholarly specialty is philosophy of aesthetics and East-West architectural theory. He has been a registered architect for 15 years in Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Contact: Dave Wang, WSU Spokane Interdisciplinary Design Institute
Phone: 509/358-7908


Would you know how to answer these questions:
— Is it a hoax that the ozone hole and global ozone depletion are human-caused?
— Do ill effects of fossil fuel burning average out in the global atmosphere-watersphere system and have no adverse global effects?
— Since evidence for climate change is contested, should industry not be required to make substantial and expensive changes in industrial processes until the data “IS” convincing?
— Should Third World countries not be required to meet environmental protocols due to their developing economies, which boost their standard of living?
— To force reduction of greenhouse gases, should use of carbon “chits” for sale by the developing nations to industry in the industrial nations be prevented?
— Is there a discernible human influence on global warming today?
These and other “scientific-political” issues will be debated once students learn how to analyze the issues of climate change in Professor George Mount’s Civil and Environmental Engineering 401 course this fall. The course is new this year. Mount is an expert in air chemistry who recently came to WSU from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Environmental Research Laboratories. He believes knowledge of global climate changes is essential to the well-being of the Earth.
The only “definite” answer to the questions above is a resounding “NO” to the first question, says Mount, who has spent time in Antarctica and Southern Chile measuring ozone and other trace gases, both on the ground and in NASA aircraft. The ozone hole is impacted by human consumption, related technologies and emissions.
Answers to the other questions are driven by scientific research, analysis and politics. The class goal is to provide students with the analytical tools for making intelligent interpretations of data, says Mount. “While global warming cannot be proven with uncontested scientific evidence, there is no doubt the Earth’s atmosphere has changed in response to human activity. There have been significant changes in the chemical system that determines climate, such as deforestation, biomass burning and a rising concentration of greenhouse gases compared to the pre-industrial era,” he said.
Work currently is underway at WSU’s Laboratory for Atmospheric Research to measure at the Earth’s surface many of the chemical compounds that affect the abundance of these trace gases. Mount is continuing to pursue research to measure trace gases globally, through use of satellite technology.
Contact: George Mount, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Phone: 509/335-3790