Consider building on your passion for saving our environment by gaining the actual know-how to do something about alarming problems such as air and water pollution, toxic waste and unsafe drinking water. Environmental engineers work on issues ranging from drinking water treatment and hazardous waste disposal to transfer of infectious diseases and ecological risk management.
Whether you work for a government agency such as the EPA, a private corporation or a non-profit organization, as an environmental engineer you can make a real difference in the survival of our planet by finding ways to clean up oil spills in our oceans, design more effective recycling systems, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from factories.
CU Boulder’s undergraduate environmental engineering program emphasizes multidisciplinary approaches to 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 dynamic careers.
Environmental engineering students enjoy extensive hands-on learning opportunities through laboratory courses, field work and undergraduate research positions. Through service learning activities such as Engineers without Borders, students apply their knowledge to real-world 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.
Undergraduate students are encouraged 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 testing whether improved cook stoves 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; or designing treatment systems for water recycling for space exploration applications.
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.
CU graduates in environmental engineering are employed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, as well as such companies as Abengoa Solar, Chevron, LT Environmental, Richard Arber Associates, Trihydro Corp., and many others.
About 20 percent of CU-Boulder engineering bachelor’s graduates (college-wide) continue onto graduate school, gaining admittance to top schools such as MIT, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, University of California Berkeley, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Environmental engineers are expected to have a faster than average growth rate, with employment projected to increase 12 percent through 2024. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The average salary nationally for environmental engineering graduates with a bachelor's degree in 2015 was $49,217 (National Association of Colleges and Employers). The median annual wage for environmental engineers was $84,560 in 2015 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).