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Environmental engineering facts that will blow your mind

As the ongoing threat of climate change continues to impact the planet, more people are considering careers as environmental engineers. Their job is to determine how the things humans do affect the environment. They also look for sustainable solutions to common issues like recycling, waste disposal and pollution.

Fewer jobs are as critical these days as that of environmental engineers. Still not convinced? Below are ten facts about environmental engineering that will blow your mind.

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But first, what is environmental engineering?

Environmental engineering is the development of methods and structures that deal with challenges people face that affect the planet. For example, environmental engineers create programs for waste management, water treatment and soil enhancement.

What do environmental engineers do?

Environmental engineers study engineering but also chemistry, biology, mathematics and soil science. They take this knowledge and use it to develop processes to reduce environmental pollutants, both man-made and organic.

That means environmental engineers work in almost every industry. They are essential in waste management, community development and wastewater processing. But they also work in pharmaceuticals, business and academia. They develop strategies to keep environmental problems at bay while letting people live robust lives.

Ten facts about environmental engineering that you may not know

Take a look at some interesting facts about environmental engineering you may not know:

  1. Environmental engineers are not new

With today’s need to find sustainable solutions to climate change, you may hear more about environmental engineers, but the role dates back to ancient civilizations. As soon as people began living in groups, they needed to find ways to dispose of things that interfered with their way of life, things like waste and the need for clean water. 

As cities began to spring up, environmental engineering became even more critical. Tack on large-scale farming, and it is not hard to see how vital environment engineers are to a healthy lifestyle.

The first recognized environmental engineer was Joseph Bazalgette, who managed London's initial large-scale municipal sanitary sewer system. City officials saw the need after a series of cholera epidemics killed thousands. At the time, residents used the River Thames almost like an open sewer, making it a public health hazard for the residents of London.

Bazalgette proposed a system to create networks underground that would divert raw sewage from the streets to the river. According to Bazalgette, they could collect sewage via a series of pumping stations around the city. Then, they would send it to two balancing tanks near the river.

Then the sewage would go into the water around high tide. That would carry it out to the ocean instead of letting sitting in the river. The first system opened in 1865, but the network took more than ten years to complete.

  1. Environmental engineers improve overall public health

Environmental engineering is the front line of defense against things that affect all animals, including humans — water contamination and pollution. Every single person generates some form of waste daily through garbage disposal, home plumbing systems, transportation and even exhaling carbon dioxide. The more people living in a given area, the more waste management is needed.

Environmental engineers supervise waste management to keep the water clean. They also play an intricate role in air pollution control, water supply maintenance and global warming. As part of their training, they study the things that impact these significant issues and suggest solutions for modern challenges like acid rain, ozone depletion and energy sustainability.

Without environmental engineers, humans would not have clean water and proper waste disposal. In addition, farmers would not be unable to analyze their soil for safe and efficient crop growth. There would also be no solid waste management or recycling. It is up to environmental engineers to create ways to utilize recyclable garbage, select landfill areas, and recommend systems for waste disposal.

Without all that, today’s society would be no better off than London in the 1800s when cholera killed thousands or in the 1950s when coal pollution choked the city.

  1. Environmental engineers work closely with other engineers

Environmental engineering is closely linked to civil and chemical engineering. Together, they plan communities, develop waste management systems and work with major industries, such as pharmaceuticals, to prevent dumping.

Environmental engineers are there to ensure the work civil and chemical engineers do will not further impact the planet. If it does, they work together to create solutions to the problem.

  1. Environmental engineers wear many hats

Environmental engineering is about protecting the planet but there are many subsets of that calling. They don’t just handle water management. They don’t just supervise waste control or pollution. They do all those things and more.

Environmental engineers are a little like doctors for the planet. They must locate the problem, do testing to diagnose it and then develop solutions. That means they are researchers, analysts, machinists, environmentalists and even law enforcement when they find infractions.

  1. Environmental engineers work in a variety of settings

Environmental engineering is a comprehensive career that takes you all over. The premise of their business requires them to work in a variety of settings. Nature is their client, so they must be outside to test soil and water and to analyze land.

They also work indoors in labs and clean rooms as they develop new products. In addition, they go to offices and meet with other engineers in conference rooms.

You'll find them in manufacturing plants as they build systems to control waste. They are also on construction sites to ensure new structures are safe and not adding to pollution.

  1. Environmental engineers study both biology and chemistry

Engineering requires the application of science and math to solve a problem. Science and engineering are partners in environmental engineering. That is why an environmental engineer should have an aptitude for science, physics and math.

Someone working towards a degree in environmental engineering can expect to take introductory biology and chemistry classes, as well as possible prerequisites. They then apply that information to courses like water chemistry and biological processes in environmental engineering.

  1. Environmental engineers must have knowledge of the laws

They can’t do their work safely and efficiently without knowing local and federal laws. Some environmental engineers even go to law school to study environmental engineering laws.

Every state has its laws when it comes to waste management and community construction. However, federal environmental laws are also critical when an environmental engineer is doing and building new systems.

  1. Civil and environmental engineering have similarities but are not the same

They are similar, and they do tackle some of the same issues. They also often work together. But they are two different areas of study.

Civil engineering focuses on structures — building and maintaining them. But, of course, where there is a structure, there are environmental concerns. For example, where is the water supply coming from and is it safe? What about waste and sewer systems? That is where the environmental engineer comes onto the scene. The environmental engineer might also evaluate how a new structure or design will impact the environment once built.

  1. Environmental engineers invent new ways to improve issues

Some of the engineering designs of the past have not been perfect. Add to that the advancements in technology and improvements must be made.

Modern environmental engineers look for ways to make things more efficient, sustainable and environmentally sound. Today’s engineer has access to tools that were unavailable to pioneers like Bazalgette. They can use their advanced knowledge and improved technology to make things better for the planet and those that call it home.

  1. Environmental engineering is a growing field

There needs to be a change in how we do things; environmental engineers will play a key role in making that happen. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the job outlook for environmental engineers is growing — a  4 percent increase in jobs  by 2031.

Finding the right environmental engineering program

Once you know that environmental engineering is the career path you want, the next step is to find a program that offers you the academic challenge you need to be a success. Central Michigan University offers a full-time course of study that you can complete in four years. It requires 63 credit hours to graduate with a degree.

While an environmental engineering student at Central Michigan University, you will have a unique opportunity to apply science and math skills to courses focusing on sustainability and improving the environment. The program covers engineering topics, waste management, soil science, biochemistry and biology.

At the end of the program, you will have the laboratory skills and knowledge to compete with others in the industry. And you should have developed the design skills necessary to make a difference in public health. As a result, you will be ready to address global problems like recycling, safe drinking water and pollution control. You will also be able to play a role in developing a safe and sustainable planet for future generations.

If that sounds like the future you want, don’t delay further. It is time to get your career as an environmental engineer started. Check out the bachelor’s environmental engineering program at Central Michigan University today to learn more.

Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Categories: General Education
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