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What is Environmental Engineering?

Environmental engineers are the technical professionals who identify and design solutions for environmental problems. Environmental engineers provide safe drinking water, treat and properly dispose of wastes, maintain air quality, control water pollution, and remediate sites contaminated due to spills or improper disposal of hazardous substances. They monitor the quality of the air, water, and land. And, they develop new and improved means to protect the environment.

Although many people are concerned about the state of our environment, environmental engineers are the people who do things to protect it from damage and to correct existing problems. Environmental engineers possess the scientific and technical knowledge to identify, design, build, and operate systems that make modern society possible. In addition to being a field for doing, the environmental engineering field and environmental engineering education are multi-disciplinary. They involve traditional engineering components such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering design. But environmental engineering education and practice also includes a range of other disciplines, such as biology, microbiology, ecology, public health, geology, meteorology, economics, political science, and computer science. To address the spectrum of issues facing the environment, environmental engineers are broadly educated, as well as technically trained.

Where do Environmental Engineer work?

Environmental engineers work in many places. Some of the common ones are:
-engineering consulting firms that design and construct air and water pollution-control systems
-industries that need to treat their air or wastewater discharges
-private and municipal agencies that supply drinking water
-companies that treat and dispose of hazardous chemicals
-companies that operate treatment facilities for municipalities or industries
-government agencies that monitor and regulate waste discharges
-universities that teach and conduct research on environmental control
-private and government laboratories that develop the new generations of pollution-control systems
-international agencies that transfer knowledge and technology to the developing world
-public-interest groups that advocate environmental protection.

What do Environmental Engineer know?

Like most engineers, environmental engineers must have a strong background in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. They learn engineering problem-solving and how to work in teams to accomplish goals. They develop the ability to apply scientific principles as part of making engineering decisions. Environmental engineers are skilled at analysis and design, and they apply their knowledge to protect the environment and human health. The breadth and multidisciplinary nature of environmental issues requires that environmental engineers expand their skills beyond the range normally associated with any single engineering field. Depending upon their specific career goals, environmental engineers gain knowledge and skills in areas such as chemical technology, geology, water and atmospheric chemistry, microbiology, toxicology, hydrology, soil science, computers, economics, and law.

How do you become an Environmental Engineer?

You can pursue environmental engineering as part of a Bachelor's degree program in engineering at many universities. Most environmental engineering programs are located in Departments of Civil Engineering. However, you sometimes find them in Departments of Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Public Health, or in an independent department.

Graduate education, leading to a Master of Science or to a Doctor of Philosophy degree, is an important part of environmental engineering. At many universities, graduate programs are open to students who do not have a Bachelors degree in environmental engineering, as well as to those students who study environmental engineering as undergraduates. This openness to students with a wide range of backgrounds is a hallmark of environmental engineering and continually brings fresh ideas to the environmental engineering field.

Environmental engineering is a great choice for you and for society. The Association of Environmental Engineering Professors wishes you success. We are looking forward to seeing you in our classes, offices, and laboratories.

This information is reproduced from a brochure provided by the Association of Environmental Engineering Professors (AEEP).