M.Env.E. 5 Year Program
The Environmental Engineering Profession
Environmental engineering is focused on the prevention and remediation of air, water, and soil contamination problems to reduce the risks to human health, water resources, and ecosystems. Environmental engineering is a discipline that evolved from civil engineering and includes aspects of the sciences (biology, chemistry, and geosciences) Professional opportunities exist in consulting engineering firms, in industries with significant environmental compliance challenges, and in governmental regulatory agencies. Environmental engineers apply physical, chemical, and biological processes in systems that remove and/or destroy pollutants in water, air, and soils and that reduce nonhazardous solid waste volumes. Specific assignments include provision for safe drinking water, treatment and disposal of municipal wastewaters, treatment and management of storm runoff, management of solid and hazardous wastes, and cleaning sites contaminated by hazardous materials.
Burgeoning national and global population growth will continue to exert demands for clean water, clean air, and environmentally sound disposal of waste materials. These demands will require the comprehensive knowledge and skills of environmental engineers to plan, design, and operate systems to achieve these goals efficiently and economically. The engineers’ role is vital in helping to both detect and identify the potential environmental problems, to implement procedures to correct these potential and existing problems, and to work to improve the quality of life in the 21st century.
The traditional route to the practice of environmental engineering has been by first obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (B.S.C.E.), or one of the environmental sciences, followed by a Master of Science in Civil Engineering (M.S.C.E.) with an emphasis on courses in the environmental engineering area. The M.S. degree often includes a research component resulting in a master’s thesis. The consulting firms that hire environmental engineers have traditionally looked upon the master’s degree as an entry requirement. With this requirement in mind, a five-year curriculum was designed to provide a highly competitive professional Master of Environmental Engineering degree (M.Env.E.). The M.Env.E. allows a more concentrated preparation in environmental science topics pertinent to the practice of environmental engineering and emphasizes the design of facilities and practices to rectify environmental problems. This degree program differs from the traditional approach since a B.S.C.E. provides graduates with a broad based background across several of the subdisciplines of civil engineering and does not allow for specialization within the discipline. For example, at Texas Tech University, B.S.C.E. graduates receive course work in structural, geotechnical, transportation, water resources, and environmental engineering. The M.Env.E. program and the B.S./M.S.C.E. (with environmental emphasis) programs essentially require the same number of credit hours and require many of the same courses. However, the B.S./M.S.C.E. option typically requires six academic years because of its research component.
M.Env.E. Degree at Texas Tech
The M.Env.E. program at Texas Tech University is a unique program in the United States in which students can directly earn an ABET-accredited Master of Environmental Engineering. The M.Env.E. degree consists of successful completion of a 5-year “freshman-to-master’s degree” program administered by the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering at Texas Tech University. The program has been ABET-accredited at the advanced level, which qualifies the program graduates for reciprocal professional accreditation in Europe, Australia, and many foreign countries, and also qualifies them to pursue their professional engineering license in environmental engineering. The M.Env.E. program is referred to as a professional degree program because the program stresses engineering practice rather than research. Students in the program have numerous opportunities for internships, summer jobs, and participation in research activities while in the program. Those graduates who choose to pursue the Professional Engineer license are doing so according to the testing and experience requirements of their states’ professional engineering boards.
The curriculum, consisting of 151 hours of coursework, provides graduates with strong preparation in biology, chemistry, the engineering sciences, and in the specifics of environmental engineering. Students learn to apply the appropriate unit operations or unit processes to treatment systems for solving water or wastewater problem situations. These same systems are applicable to problems encountered in air, soil, and solid/hazardous waste management as demonstrated through advanced courses in these areas. The program strives to instill in each student a spirit of service and leadership and an appreciation of life long learning, as new technological advances and regulatory incentives crop up often. Development of leadership skills, an awareness of professional ethics, and participation in student organizations prepare graduates from the program for professional practice.
Students are formally admitted to the M.Env.E. program at the end of the second curriculum year after a review is made of the student’s progress. Transfer students can be admitted into the program. Those interested in transferring should consult with one of the M.Env.E. program advisors to identify courses that will directly transfer between institutions and programs. Each student meets with an assigned faculty counselor at least once a semester to review the student’s progress and academic effort. Students are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and must meet the university’s graduate school admission requirements before enrolling in graduate level courses. Those students who fail to meet the Graduate School guidelines are encouraged to complete the undergraduate curriculum through the fourth year and receive a non-accredited Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering degree. Students admitted to the graduate program must then adhere to the graduate school requirements to be eligible for graduation.
The master of environmental engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org