COMP_ENG 395, 495: Computing and Sustainability



Sustainability is a critical global imperative. There is a looming danger that economic growth will bring the world’s average temperature dangerously close to the critical 1.5 degrees above the pre-industrial levels. Computing has a huge role to play in preventing such outcome. First, Computing is a fundamental tool in understanding climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in high energy sectors (e.g. supply chain, transportation, manufacturing, power generation) by introducing innovative material and optimization solutions. Second, With growing demand of cloud computing, infrastructure for ML/AI and IoT, the global energy consumption of Information and communication technology (ICT) sector is expected to rise to 20% by 2030. E-waste is the fastest rising global waste stream. There is urgent need to rethink computing systems from a sustainability first lens. In this course we will look at both closely :

  • Computing applied for sustainability oriented applications. Including IoT/sensing, quantum computing, computational economics, materials discovery, and optimization.
  • Rethinking computing systems for lower energy and carbon footprint. New ways to minimize energy. Novel materials and manufacturing. Creating User experience for responsible disposal. 

This is heavily project based course which includes reading research papers and expert-informed co-design of technology targeted towards sustainability.


  • Empower the ECE/CS engineering students to be able to take environmental action through technological innovations
  • Learn toolkit of skills to design computing systems from a sustainability-first approach for their entire lifecycle: manufacturing, operation, disposal
  • Understand the environmental footprint of computing across from data centers to the Internet of Things
  • Understanding of sustainability and the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDG), and how computing and the SDGs mix


  • Group Project: 40% 
  • Term paper writing/presentation: 10%
  • Paper reviews: 40%
  • Class Participation: 10%


  • Fundamentals of energy, power,  carbon, and climate
  • Low-power devices, systems, computing architecture
  • Energy and carbon footprint of a data center, cloud computing, and AI
  • Energy harvesters and renewable energy
  • E-waste, product lifetime extension, and the Circular Economy
  • NextGeneration wireless networking for energy-saving
  • Unconventional computing may save the planet: neuromorphic, quantum, physics-based
  • Ubiquitous computing for environmental monitoring:
    urban city, volcano, wildfires, agriculture, biodiversity
  • Climate advocacy,  and UN Sustainable Development Goals