News & Features

Atila Novoselac - Sustainability Course Award

headshot of Atila Novoselac

July 16, 2014

Associate Professor Atila Novoselac recently received a Peer-Led Undergraduate Studying (PLUS) Conversion Award for his course, CE 397, ARE 371 “Energy Simulation in Building Design”.

The UT Austin Center for the Core Curriculum, Sanger Learning Center, and the Office of Sustainability determined the winners of the 2013– 2014 Sustainability Course Development and PLUS Awards.

The competition is designed to provide incentives for the development of new sustainability courses or course conversions to a PLUS model, which assists students enrolled in historically difficult courses by offering class-specific, weekly study groups. Students can attend any study group at any point in the semester to review for an exam, discuss confusing concepts, or work through practice problems.

To be eligible for either award, a course must address issues related to sustainability and fulfill the requirements for one or more of the designated flags. Flags are taught across the curriculum so that students learn about writing or ethical decision-making, for example, in the context of their own discipline.

“Peer-Led Undergraduate Studying (PLUS) is ideal for a challenging and more technical course such as Energy Simulation in Building Design,” says Novoselac.

“Building energy simulation models are detailed and complex, and in order to master such theories and tools, students can highly benefit from group study sessions to reinforce what has been learned in class and refine their understanding,” he says.

Most of the instructional time during his class is focused on the theory behind energy modeling, ensuring that students understand the methods used in the software. To build simulation models and use simulation software, students often spend a significant amount of time outside of class learning the programming needed to solve theoretical problems, and the methods needed to use the energy modeling software for projects and assignments.

“By holding weekly sessions outside of class, students can work on programming and modeling with a knowledgeable student preceptor available to help and provide guidance,” says Novoselac.

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