What You Do
Sustainability engineering has been defined as “engineering designed to meet current needs without making it harder for future generations to do the same.” Sometimes referred to as “green” engineering, sustainable engineering is a principle that has become increasingly relevant to engineers of nearly every discipline (oil and energy, automotive, electrical, etc.)
The environmental engineering industry directly focuses on improving the health and sustainability of the natural environment. This means designing the most efficient systems in waste disposal, water management, air pollution, renewable resources, and other such areas.
As a sustainable/environmental engineer, you may end up working for organizations such as:
- U.S. Pipe and Foundry Company
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
- Companies in automobile or aerospace, such as NASA
- Research facilities such as the Environmental Toxicology Research Facility
A site whose water is contaminated with petroleum needs to be remediated. You first map and assess the site, determining which method of remediation would be most effective. Factors of this assessment include physical characteristics of the site, such as degree of pollution and type of pollution, as well as potential hazardous effects on workers and nearby communities. Then, you design a system to restore the site in the most comprehensive manner.
Classes & Majors
Many engineering disciplines can involve a focus on sustainability, but the most directly applicable majors are civil and environmental engineering. Especially important classes are chemistry, physics, and biology, as well as other basic engineering courses. More specific topics include hydraulics, construction, and materials.