Environmental engineering is a relatively new stream of engineering, focused with protecting natural environment and their inhabitants from human activities, energy preservation and control of waste. Since the industrial revolution the rate of global average surface temperature rose from 0.6 to 0.9 degrees Celsius and the rate of increase doubled in the last 50 years. This has resulted in the destruction of habitats (through flooding and abnormal weather) and climate change is now widely recognised as the greatest threat to our planet.
Through the development of new renewable energy technologies such as solar power, wind turbines and electric vehicles along with the mitigation of existing ones (air pollution control and emissions reduction) it is hoped that the rate of temperature increase will decline and the effects of global warming will reduce. With the current infrastructure favouring gasoline and diesel powered engines and vehicles, it is a challenge to implement new technologies and environmental engineers are always looking for new ‘greener’ ways to operate.
2 different types of cleaner renewable energy located on a single power generation farm - wind and solar. Source: www.climateactionprogramme.org
Environmental engineers can work on a range of projects depending on which specific industry they work in. In the transport sector the focus today is on electric vehicles and reducing the prices of them whilst increasing their battery capacities to be comparable to current gasoline and diesel powered vehicles. Other areas include environmental impact assessment and mitigation, water supply and treatment, wastewater management and air pollution management.
Environmental engineers are can be involved in the research and development of new technologies which can involve testing and report writing. They can also be involved in coordinating waste management and recycling activities and construction and manufacturing site. They will often advise on the environmental effects of projects, working with engineers from different industries aiming to reduce their impact and waste generation. Environmental engineering can be a fulfilling area to work in, knowing that you are contributing to saving the planet.
Skills and Expertise
Understanding of basic mechanical and civil engineering principles
Problem solving skills
Project management and integration skills
Good communication skills to be able to collaborate with experts from different fields and industries.
Word processing, spreadsheets and presentations (E.g. MS Word, MS Excel, MS Powerpoint; Google Docs, Sheets and Slides)
Microsoft Project or other project planning software
Renewable Energy Engineer
Automotive Engineer (Electric vehicles)
Energy Policy Adviser
Water Resources Engineer
UK: The Society of Environmental Engineers (SEE)
USA: The American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES)
Other: Energy Institute (EI)