Environmental engineers play a vital role in maintaining the quality of both human environmental systems and the natural environment. Environmental engineering encompasses the scientific assessment and development of engineering solutions to environmental problems impacting the biosphere, land, water and air quality. Environmental issues affect almost all commercial and industrial sectors, and are a central concern for the public, for all levels of government, and in international relations. These issues include safe drinking water, wastewater processing, solid and hazardous waste disposal, outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution and transfer of infectious diseases, human health and ecological risk management, and prevention of pollution through product or process design.
To address these challenges, environmental engineers work in a multidisciplinary arena. Solutions to many environmental problems require contributions from engineers, scientists, lawyers, business people and the public. Good communication skills, as well as technical proficiency, are essential for success in this arena. In addition, technology designed to address environmental problems is marketed globally, opening up increasing opportunities for international work in the environmental engineering field.
The Bachelors of Science degree program in Environmental Engineering at the University of Colorado includes coursework in advanced mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics, as well as engineering. In common with other engineering fields, courses in solid mechanics, fluid dynamics and thermal sciences are central to the environmental engineering degree. Coursework that is specific to environmental engineering includes water and wastewater treatment, hazardous waste storage and treatment, and air pollution control. In addition, environmental engineering requires hands-on water, soil and air quality laboratory experiences, up-to-date skills in the use of computers for modeling and data analysis, and experience in the design of environmental engineering systems.
The Environmental Engineering M.S., Professional M.S., and Ph.D. program benefits from long-standing relationships of participating faculty with researchers in CU-Boulder institutes and federal laboratories in the area. Furthermore, the program benefits from the strong reputation already held by the environmental engineering groups within the participating departments.
To cover the broad base of knowledge required of environmental engineers, the degree program at CU draws on the expertise of more than 20 faculty from four departments: Aerospace Engineering Sciences; Chemical and Biological Engineering; Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering; and Mechanical Engineering. The required engineering courses in the program are offered in these four departments.