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Swanson School of Engineering Offers New Environmental Engineering Major

17 Aug 2017 8:57 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

Edited from a Press Release by Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

 As the demand for energy grows and the human impact on natural resources like fresh water becomes more profound, public and private entities are relying on environmental engineers to address current and future challenges facing our society. In order for its students to capitalize on this changing job market, the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering offered a new environmental engineering major beginning the 2016-2017 academic year, and plans to seek ABET accreditation in October, 2017.

The degree launched in the fall of 2016, and the first graduates adjusted their course requirements to graduate in April 2017, says Leonard Casson, associate professor and academic coordinator of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The environmental engineering major joins bioengineering, chemical and petroleum engineering, civil engineering, electrical and computer engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science engineering, and engineering sciences in the Swanson School.

“Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that there’s going to be a great demand for environmental engineers, and many of our alumni and employment partners have indicated this to us as well.” he says. “Civil engineers in particular need to adapt quickly to evolving societal needs, and our Department realized that we were poised to create a specific major to give our students an advantage.”

According to recent BLS data, “employment of environmental engineers is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.” California, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida and Texas currently lead the U.S. in the highest employment level of environmental engineers.

Casson added that there are currently 67 ABET accredited environmental engineering programs in the United States. And, locally, he continued, environmental engineers—who use the principles of engineering, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems—will likely have job opportunities in many professional areas including water and wastewater treatment, site remediation, solid and hazardous waste management, energy, green building design and construction, and mining.

“Developing this program was possible thanks to the depth and breadth of our faculty, many of whom are nationally and internally recognized for their research in water and wastewater management, sustainability and green design and unconventional resources such as Marcellus and Utica shale,” Casson said. “Additionally, we have found that women and minorities with a passion for the environment are greatly interested in this program, and so we anticipate it to be an advantage when recruiting future undergraduate students.” 

The Department has approximately 300 undergraduate students (sophomore, junior and senior) and 150 graduate students (MS, PMS and PhD). It is also one of Pitt’s oldest academic programs, established in 1867 as a direct result of the impact of the civil engineering field during the Civil War.  

Joe Miksch, News Director, University Communications

Contact: Paul Kovach


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