Girl looking at test tube by a creek
Degrees Offered: BS

Environmental engineers work on issues such as drinking water treatment, wastewater processing, solid and hazardous waste disposal, outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution and transfer of infectious diseases, human health and ecological risk management, prevention of pollution through product or process design and renewable and sustainable energy sources. They find ways to clean up oil spills in oceans, deliver clean drinking water to developing communities, design more effective recycling systems and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from factories and vehicles.

Environmental engineers can find jobs in every state and internationally. Government agencies at the municipal, state or federal level need environmental engineers. There are also many jobs in private corporations, including industrial manufacturers and engineering consulting businesses. Job choices for environmental engineers include research, private practice and consulting, construction, industry and teaching.

Undergraduate Opportunities

CU Boulder’s undergraduate environmental engineering program emphasizessustainable, multidisciplinary approaches to managing the unique challenges and balancing the competing social, political, economic and technical goals of environmental problems and solutions. The degree provides mastery of principles and practices, inspires service for the global public good and prepares students for graduate school, professional licensure and broad and dynamic careers.

Environmental engineering students enjoy extensive hands-­on learning opportunities through laboratory courses, fieldwork and undergraduate research positions. Through service learning activities such as Engineers without Borders, students apply their knowledge to real­world projects that improve the quality of life for people in developing countries. Students can also gain professional exposure through the student chapter of the Society of Environmental Engineers.

Research Opportunities

Undergraduate students are uniquely poised to pursue research opportunities through independent study, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, the Discovery Learning Apprenticeship program or research assistantships with faculty. Possible topics include developing improved cook stoves for remote villages and testing whether they improve indoor air quality for families in the Peruvian highlands; understanding what happened to oil and dispersants released into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon disaster; developing small devices for monitoring air pollution and using them to study when and where individuals are exposed to unhealthy air; designing treatment systems for complete water recycling for space exploration applications; and investigating how mercury cycles through the environment and what controls its conversion to the highly toxic methyl­-mercury.