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Descriptions of most of the steps below can be found in chapter 1 of your Engineering Economic Analysis textbook in the “The Decision-Making Process” section.

Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to orient you to the marine microplastics problem globally and locally so that you understand the scope of the problem and can identify how engineering solutions play an important part in addressing the issue. Through this assignment you will:

  • identify and define the global plastics and microplastics problem
  • identify steps that are being or have been taken in an attempt to address the issue
  • begin to consider the roles that money, government, and politics play in aiding or hampering research, innovation, and practical solutions
  • identify the approach you, as an engineer, would prefer to take to address the problem
  • identify your goals and objectives
  • communicate your findings and preferences to an audience of your peers

Step 1: Background Research (“Recognize the problem,” Ch. 1 of your Engineering Economic Analysis textbook)

Read/watch/listen to/view the resources provided for you on the Canvas Page: “Microplastics Problem Background Information” (linked here, in an announcement, and available in the “Pages” section of Canvas). Familiarize yourself with the microplastics issue, and the 2019 study on microplastics in Tampa Bay. You should conduct additional background research as you see fit, but ensure that you use only credible sources.

  • Broad definition of the problem: In 2-3 sentences, broadly define the problem as you understand it.
  • The microplastics problem as specifically related to Tampa Bay: In 2-3 sentences, specifically define the problem as it relates to Tampa Bay.

Step 2: Research Global Approaches (“Assemble the relevant data,” Ch. 1 of your Engineering Economic Analysis textbook)

This is where you will begin to assemble the relevant data (see the “Decision-Making Process” section of your economics textbook). You will continue to assemble the relevant data, including cost analyses, in future assignments; for now, focus on the questions below.

Conduct research to find out how the microplastics issue is being addressed globally. Find answers for the following questions:

  • What kind of research is being conducted on microplastics across the world? (Think about fields of research, research on cleanup and prevention, etc.)
  • What kinds of inventions or solutions have been or are being developed to address the issue of marine plastics and microplastics?
  • From a policy/governmental perspective, what are some examples of how non-US countries are trying to deal with the plastics and microplastics problem? (Include regulations, bans, task forces, cleanups, prevention, etc.)
  • Briefly describe examples in two US states other than Florida that show how state governments are attempting to address the microplastics problem
  • What cleanup or prevention steps have been taken by government in the Greater Tampa Bay Area (Links to an external site.) (focus on Tampa, Saint Petersburg, and Clearwater) that might address the microplastics issue? How were the initiatives received? How are the initiatives being actualized?
  • Based on your research, what are your thoughts on how the microplastics issue is being addressed globally, nationally (US), and locally?

Step 3: Determine Your Preferred Project Approach

The microplastics problem is extensive, and through your research, you have heard and read about a variety of ways that it is being addressed. Which approach would you prefer to take for this project: prevention, or cleanup?

  • Explain why you think your preferred approach (prevention or cleanup) is the better choice
  • Specifically describe your idea or ideas for this project.
  • Remember: Engineering students are frequently asked to think about or solve real-life problems in their classes, and sometimes students come up with amazing solutions that are actually adopted and implemented into the big-wide-world.

Step 4: Define the Goal or Objective (“Define the Goal or Objective,” Ch. 1 of your Engineering Economic Analysis textbook)

Here, you will define a preliminary goal or objective. For this assignment, your goal or objective must be clear and concise, reflect careful attention to the problem, and align with the problem approach. You should read and expound upon the section in your textbook titled “2. Define the Goal or Objective,” and specifically attend to the specific requirements of this assignment.

With your team, you will revise and refine your goal or objective to something that you and your team agree on in principle and achievability.

Step 5: Summary

Offer a summary (1-2 paragraphs) of the above information. Summarize your thoughts on the microplastics problem, and how it is being addressed globally, nationally, and locally. Connect your approach to your goal or objective, as well as to instances around the world where countries and people are taking action. You will present this part of your assignment to your team during your 1st meeting.

Step 6: Submission


Format your submission so that you use each heading above (“Step 1: Background Research,” […] “Step 4: Define the Goal or Objective,” etc.), with your findings included below each heading. Your findings should be well organized and clearly defined, as demonstrated below (the example below is intended to demonstrate formatting, NOT answers, wording, specific countries, etc.). Include your name, date, and the course number and section at the top of your document.

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