Environmental Engineering

Undergraduate Degree Program for Environmental Engineering

Are you interested in environmental engineering? A stream of stories in the news document environmental concerns. Increasingly complex and coupled scientific and social issues call for creative and well-trained environmental engineers.

The world needs people who have a sense of purpose and a first-class engineering education, who are prepared to tackle modern environmental problems and sustainability issues. Whether assessing the threat of pollutants to an ecosystem, or the treatment needed to provide safe water supplies, environmental engineers play a crucial role. And that’s where Cornell’s College of Engineering comes in. We will provide you with an education that will allow you to be a voice of reason and science, so you can take a leading role in the resolution of current and emerging environmental concerns.

Environmental engineers seek ways to mitigate human impacts on the environment, generate energy from renewable resources, and protect public health. They analyze the transport, reactions, and effects of land-, water-, and air-pollutants, design pollution and hazardous waste-control facilities, and oversee the construction and operation of such facilities. They play important roles in city planning, developing water-resource systems, and designing and operating other systems fundamental to preserving our quality of life and the quality of the environment. They are also involved in the development and management of renewable energy sources. Environmental engineers design systems that can turn waste into electricity and other fuels. Environmental engineers design solutions to problems with long-term sustainability and global impacts in mind.

Your Cornell education will address current problems, so you will have the opportunity to act on issues that professional engineers face every day. You will work closely with faculty members—established leaders in the field—who are addressing cutting-edge issues in their research and consulting.

In addition to studying chemistry and physics, as an environmental engineering student you will study biology, microbiology, fluid mechanics, and hydrology. You will learn to employ biological, chemical, and engineering principles to model the effects of human activities on environment quality, or to help you design drinking water-treatment and wastewater-treatment systems. One example is our multi-disciplinary AguaClara program which involves students in the design of sustainable and affordable water treatment systems for underdeveloped areas around the globe. Systems designed by Cornell undergraduate students are currently providing safe drinking water to more than 50,000 people. In laboratories, you will examine current environmental problems, mitigation technologies, and opportunities for energy generation from renewable resources (wind, water and biofuels). Many of those problems are the focus of Cornell faculty research. You will study environmental systems in which mathematical models are used to optimize complex water resource networks or to create designs for environmental remediation.

The environmental engineering (EnvE) major is offered jointly by faculty members in biological and environmental engineering (BEE) and in civil and environmental engineering (CEE).

Outcomes

The world needs people who have a sense of purpose and a first-class engineering education, who are prepared to tackle modern environmental problems and sustainability issues. Students wishing to pursue a master of engineering (M.Eng.) degree in environmental engineering can solve problems that are closely related to either civil engineering or biological engineering. Whether you study biofuels development, sustainable agriculture, soil and water systems, or applied molecular bioengineering, as an M.Eng. graduate, you will be highly sought after by employers in both the public and private sectors.

Master of Engineering Degree Program

Students wishing to pursue a master of engineering (M.Eng.) degree in environmental engineering can solve problems that are closely related to either civil engineering or biological engineering. On the civil engineering side—clean water, efficient transportation systems, urban renewal, rural development—civil and environmental engineers strive for harmony and balance between the constructed human environment and the natural world. Every aspect—including design, development, creation, operation, and renewal—is aimed at protecting the public while preserving the health of the natural environment.

On the biological engineering side—a rapidly growing field where engineering practice meets quantitative biology—engineers work toward practical, sustainable solutions to a wide variety of human health and environmental challenges. Whether you study biofuels development, sustainable agriculture, soil and water systems, or applied molecular bioengineering, as an M.Eng. graduate, you will be highly sought after by employers in both the public and private sectors.

Some Areas of Faculty Research

  • aquatic chemistry
  • application of molecular biology to microbial populations
  • atmospheric chemistry and climate modeling
  • contaminant transport, fate, and remediation
  • environmental systems
  • fluid mechanics and hydrology
  • renewable energy systems
  • sustainable resource management
  • sustainable water treatment processes for developing countries
  • waste conversion to bioenergy
  • water-resource systems
  • watershed modeling

Environmental Engineering by the Numbers

Number of Environmental Engineering undergraduate students: 109

  • College of Engineering: 38
  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: 71

Starting salaries of B.S. Environmental Engineering graduates (three-year average):

  • Median: 108,000

Post-graduate plans for environmental engineering graduates at the time of graduation (2019):

  • Employed 47% 47%
  • Attending Graduate School 47% 47%
  • Seeking Employment 5% 5%