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Environmental Engineering

Definition - Environmental engineering was defined by Gilbertson (1973) as that branch of engineering concerned with the application of scientific and engineering principles for:
  • Protection of human populations from the effects of adverse environmental factors;
  • Protection of environments, both local and global from the potentially deleterious effects of natural and human activities; and,
  • Improvement of environmental quality
  • What’s the purpose of environmental engineering?
    Historically environmental engineers have created systems and strategies to treat waste streams; produce safe drinking water; control storm water; manage solid waste, hazardous waste, and radioactive waste; clean up environmental contamination; and, control noise. In the future, environmental engineers must also react to and mitigate changes in climate and resource availability and be a leader in implementing actions that enhance sustainability.
    Is there a need for environmental engineers?
    Indeed! According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there are over 51,000 environmental engineers employed in the U.S. and Jones et al. (2005) reported the upper range may be as high as 100,000.
    Moreover, Environmental engineering is only one of two engineering disciplines that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will have “faster than average growth” over the next 10 years. The projected 22% growth in the number of environmental engineers to 63,000 by 2020 is the 2nd largest of any engineering discipline. In contrast, overall growth rate for all occupations will be 14% (US Department of Labor).
    EV301 Environmental Science for Engineering and
    EV388A Physical Geology
    XS391 Principles and Applications of Environmental
    EV394 Hydrogeology
    EV396 Environmental Biological Systems
    EV397 Air Pollution Engineering
    EV400 Environmental Engineering Seminar
    EV401 Physical and Chemical Treatment
    EV402 Biochemical Treatment
    EV481 Water Resources Planning and Design
    EV488 Solid and Hazardous Waste Treatment and
    EV490 Advanced Environmental Engineering
    EE301 Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering
    MC311 Thermal Fluid Systems I
    MA366 Applied Engineering Math
    Descriptions of all courses can be found in the West Point Course Catalog known as the "Red Book."
    More environmental engineers will be needed to comply with environmental regulations and to develop methods of cleaning up existing hazards. A shift in emphasis toward preventing problems rather than controlling those that already exist, as well as increasing public health concerns resulting from population growth, also are expected to spur demand for environmental engineers. Because of this employment growth, job opportunities should be good even as more students earn degrees. Even though employment of environmental engineers should be less affected by economic conditions than most other types of engineers, a significant economic downturn could reduce the emphasis on environmental protection, reducing job opportunities (US Department of Labor).  CNN Money in 2011 ranked Environmental Engineering in the top 10 of best jobs for future growth in America (CNN Money). 
  • Median salary: $78,740
  • Highest 10%: $119,060
  • As a group, engineers earn some of the highest average starting salaries among those holding bachelor’s degrees. Engineers had 12 of the top 15 starting salaries for undergraduates (24 Jul 09 –
Cedar Rapids IA Flood.jpg 
    Floodwaters, Cedar Rapids, IA - July 9, 2008 a
    Windmills, Torres Verdas, Portugal b
    Description - Environmental Engineering is broad in scope and draws on the disciplines of chemistry, ecology, geology, hydraulics, hydrology, microbiology, economics, and mathematics. Environmental Engineers develop the concepts, methodologies, and processes that protect human health and the natural environment.
    Who Should Study Environmental Engineering - Cadets interested in protection of human health, preservation of the environment, and the practice of engineering.
    The West Point Environmental Engineering Program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commision of ABET, 
     If you are interested in this program, contact Dr. Michael Butkus, 945-938-2820.


    Gilbertson, W.E., “Environmental Quality Goals and Challenges”, Proceedings of the Third National Environmental Engineering Education Conference, ed by P.W. Purdom, AAEE and AEEP, Drexel University, 1973.
    Jones, S. et al., An Initial Effort to Count Environmental Engineers in the USA, Environmental Engineering Science, 22(6), 2005.
    Mihelcic, J. Environmental Engineering is a Distinct Discipline, AEESP Newsletter, 42(2), 2008.