Environmental Engineering Major
Q: Can somebody tell me what environmental engineering entails? I am considering an environmental engineering major an so far I've only been given a general overview of what it entails.
A: -Well here in the great Midwest an "environmental engineering" degree entails much time in the front of the unemployment lines...unless you are a tree hugging liberal without need for $$ you may wish to consider some other profession... -"Environmental Engineering!" What is it? Do we "engineer" the environment? God knows, we try. But in reality an "envirinmental engineer" functions in the mode of trying to reverse the effects of other engineers' labors. Like trying to clean up groundwater from leaking waste sites or underground storage tanks. If you are interested in "environmental engineering" get a degree in Civil Engineering with a little chemical thrown in for good measure. Take some geology courses or get a dual degree. . geology and civil engineering. Geology will give you an appreciation for the Earth and its processes. Engineering will give you the tools to work with. On top of that, try to get some experience with state and federal environmental regulation. That's the framework in which most "environmental engineering" is performed. -Environmental engineering is really a subdivision of either civil engineering or chemical engineering. The civil engineering track primarily involves water; either treating sewage, purifying drinking water or managing water resources like dams, lakes, and rivers. I grew up in Toledo Ohio in the sixties. Lake Erie was a mess. I thought that I would contribute to society by learning all I could about water treatment and trying a clean up the environment. So I got a masters in sanitary engineering at Ohio State. While I was in school, they changed the program from sanitary to environmental engineering. During my career I have worked with hazardous waste management most often. This involves chemical engineering because of the pollution control devices are chemical processes. Most of that work involves processes that separate compounds (i.e., separate the pollutant from the environmental media that is contaminated). Much work is done on combustion processes. Most of my work now involves consulting to petrochemcial plants that burn hazardous waste. The key insight that I offer to someone interested in environmental engineering is that most of the future work will be data management. The pollution control devices are by and large already constructed so there won't be a lot of contruction and design work. However, the devices need to be operated properly which involves improving process controls. Also the companies that operate these devices must be able to prove the units were operated in compliance. This involves data acquisiton and management. The employment opportunities are pretty good in the Texas gulf coast region.