Appropriate Technology: Sound solutions to real problems

Appropriate Technology reflects an approach to technological development, characterized by creative and sound engineering, that recognizes the social, environmental, political, economic, and technical aspects of a proposed technological solution to a problem facing a society. Generally, appropriate technologies are smaller-scale technologies that are ecologically and socially benign, affordable, and often powered by renewable energy. The field is an interdisciplinary one drawing from the physical and social sciences as well as from engineering, architecture, and technology. Areas of interest include energy conversion systems, waste and water management, community and shelter design, technology assessment, small-scale production systems, and technology transfer.

Program Description

Success in this field would require a strong background in a wide variety of technological areas. Individuals should be committed to making the world a better one through the development of improved technological systems. Concern about environmental and social impacts of technology would be a strong motivating factor. Individuals should be able to critically examine a wide variety of problems and to work independently as well as with groups.

This concentration provides the most general technological background that the Department of Technology and Environmental Design offers. Students will develop knowledge and skill in many technological areas, including CAD and design, material processing, computer simulations and data analysis, architecture, and construction, as well in renewable energy technologies, energy efficient solar building design and construction, waste management, and research methods. This background will be useful in many fields of endeavor.

Students can pursue many careers with an Appropriate Technology background. These could include careers in the renewable energy field; energy management; designing, building and/or maintaining renewable energy equipment; work in the solid waste or recycling industry; designing and building sustainable buildings; selling AT products; working for utility companies or government research labs; and/or sustainable development work in developing countries.

Students could also pursue graduate education in related fields such as architecture, education, or in interdisciplinary programs like Science, Technology and Society programs.

A minor in AT would provide students with technological skills useful in many areas. Students in business, Sustainable Development, Geography and Planning, Biology, and Physics have found it beneficial to pursue an AT minor.

QEP Global Learning

department of technology and environmental design

Program Resources

    Western North Carolina Renewable Energy Initiative
    ASU Sustainable Energy Society
    ASU Renewable Energy Initiative
  • ASU Energy Center 
  • NCSEA 
    North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association 


Dr. Dennis Scanlin
Program Coordinator