Environmental Engineers use the principles of engineering, biology, soil science and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems. They also address global issues, such as climate change and sustainability. They also design solutions for areas of concern such as water treatment and pollution.
There are a number of different projects that environmental engineers would work on, such as designing plans to reduce pollution, and increasing the efficiency of waste disposal. The bottom line is that environmental engineering is the most sensitive engineering to the preservation of earth. It is the work of the environmental engineers to make the world more livable through their projects. They do this through developing solutions for environmental problems.
They may be involved in water and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, and numerous public health issues. Environmental Engineers conduct hazardous-waste management studies in which they evaluate the significance of the hazard, offer analysis on treatment and containment, and then they develop regulations to prevent mishaps.
Environmental engineers would typically split their time between the office and the field. Whilst in the office they would be involved in working on project plans and collaborating with other engineers. Whist in the field they would be monitoring the progress of their projects, to ensure that they are working effectively using the principles of biology and chemistry.
According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the typical duties of an environmental engineer would include the following:
- Prepare, review, and update environmental investigation reports
- Design projects leading to environmental protection, such as water reclamation facilities, air pollution control systems, and operations that convert waste to energy
- Obtain, update, and maintain plans, permits, and standard operating procedures
- Provide technical support for environmental remediation projects and legal actions
- Analyze scientific data and do quality-control checks
- Monitor progress of environmental improvement programs
- Inspect industrial and municipal facilities and programs to ensure compliance with environmental regulations
- Advise corporations and government agencies about procedures for cleaning up contaminated sites
Environmental Engineers are not your typical engineers, and their world stretches far beyond the confines of mathematics and physics. The work of an Environmental Engineer will typically cover a broad range of disciplines including chemistry, environmental law and biology. Where an Engineer would design a power plant or mine, an Environmental Engineer will typically work to mitigate the harmful environment caused by such projects. It seems as well that more woman become environmental engineers than other engineering professions.
I was interested to read an article in the Financial Post that stated that Daryl McCartney a University of Alberta Environmental Engineering professor said that there were typically around 25% female and 75% male in most engineering departments, but that in Environmental Engineering courses they are finding that it is close to 50% female.
To become an Environmental Engineer will usually require at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Many environmental engineers will specialize in certain areas such as hazardous waste removal. The coursework for environmental engineers varies depending on the institution and program, but generally all engineering students are required to take biology, physics, chemistry, calculus and general engineering courses.
If becoming an Environmental Engineer is something you are considering, you can expect to have a varied, exciting and fulfilling career, where your work will have a tangible effect not only on our planet but also on people’s lives.