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Science and engineering go hand-in-hand. There are many branches of engineering, such as chemical, electrical, aerospace, mechanical, computer, architectural, and the list continues. All of them involve science in different concentrations. Environmental engineering is no exception. Therefore, for those individuals considering this field as a career, prepare for classes in a variety of sciences and mathematics. This post will provide a sampling of which sciences are typical in the captioned discipline.

The work engineering originates from the Latin word ingenium, meaning innate, natural quality, cleverness, intelligence, inclination, and genius. To master the sciences in any branch of engineering does require a penchant for physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, for example. Your aptitude must be evident long before college. In junior high school, your grades in science and math should place you near the top of the class. Your stellar grades in these subjects should continue into high school.

Associate’s Degree

This two-year degree is the minimum for work in this profession. You may be able to find an associate’s degree at a local community college. The degree could be in Environmental Engineering Technology or Civil Engineering. The former may specialize in a particular area, as water treatment or water systems technology. This specialty would involve classes in biology and chemistry to understand the water testing process. Physics is another subject that teaches the mechanics behind water treatment systems.

An Associate of Science in Environmental Engineering Technology is the collective title for a degree at this level. You will learn about toxic chemicals, hazardous materials, safety issues, and health concepts. The emphasis on science and math varies according to the school’s curriculum. Some may only have three credit hours each of biology and math. However, the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Environmental Engineering Associate degree has more hours devoted to science classes.  Their program is in Waste and Water Technology, which includes courses in environmental science, biology, chemistry, microbiology, and psychology. Topics related to mechanical engineering are in pollution control systems, wastewater treatment, and maintenance of fluid pumps.

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Bachelor’s Degree

At this level, you will encounter an assortment of classes in the sciences. A course in environmental engineering doesn’t sound scientific. However, this may look at the physics of improving water, air, and soil conditions. Further education in physics is necessary to learn about thermodynamics, kinetics, energy balances, and heat transfer. These lessons also come into play in civil engineering curricula. Hydrostatics, fluid dynamics, energy-momentum, hydraulics, and metering instruments are other science-related subjects. This part of the program is in the form of lectures and laboratory hours.

The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas-Austin has eight hours of physics. These are in the form of lab hours and lectures. The lectures teach you the basic concepts of physics, for example, laws of motion, heat, magnetism, electricity, and atomic phenomena.

A typical study plan exposes you to hours of chemistry principles, theories, ideas, and properties. You can expect lab classes in chemistry where you experiment with techniques used in analytical and physical chemistry.

In addition to the sciences, you will have mathematics in the form of calculus, probability, statistics, algebra, trigonometry, and differential equations — Shawnee University’s Bachelor of Science in Environmental Technology has seven hours of mathematics. They have 28 hours of natural science, which involves courses in biology, chemistry, and physics. The majority of hours is in technology classes-fluid mechanics, risk analysis, hydrology, water treatment, toxicology, and more.

Master’s Degree

The programs at the graduate level might include hydrology, chemistry, and biology or microbiology. A master of science has more electives than an undergraduate program. You can tailor the courses to your interests and future or current career. Despite the shorter hours in a master’s program (24-30), you cannot avoid science classes. For example, Temple University’s Master of Science in Environmental Engineering states that you can jump into your electives after completing the core work. Therefore, your studies begin by examining the chemical principles of pollution, microbiology, organic compounds, heat and mass transfer, and kinetics.

Lamar University’s College of Engineering offers a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering. As an example, their curriculum consists of nine hours of core courses, fifteen hours of electives, and a six-hour thesis. They have a non-thesis option of thirty-six semester hours. Lamar’s coursework is similar to other schools at this level. The core classes concentrate on chemistry and biology. The electives focus on the technology or engineering components (treatment, hazardous and solid waste management, air pollution).

Master’s programs combine science and engineering. The former, as it relates to the analysis of soil, water, and air pollution. You must have a solid education in primarily chemistry and biology to understand environmental processes. The engineering elements provide the skills to design and operate treatment systems. Also, graduates need a grasp of the technology used to remediate contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and toxic industrial materials.

Additional Resources

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