Monday, June 8, 2009

New Engineering Master’s Degrees Aimed at Emerging Environmental Challenges

Mercer University’s School of Engineering is launching two new degree programs this fall to help meet the nation’s mounting environmental challenges. In August, the School will welcome its first classes for the Master of Science in Engineering in environmental engineering – for students with engineering degrees – and the Master of Science in environmental systems – aimed at practicing professionals with degrees in other science disciplines.

The degrees are timely, according to their designers, because the curricula not only provide training in sustainability, green engineering and ecology, but also address the nation’s most pressing environmental challenges: emerging contaminants and aging environmental infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers, in its most recent report card, gave an overall grade of D for the infrastructure in the United States, and the country’s drinking water, wastewater, energy and hazardous waste systems all received either a D or D minus.

“These new environmental graduate programs will train environmental engineers and scientists to replace the aging infrastructure with sustainable designs and develop innovative approaches to treat emerging contaminants associated with personal care products, endocrine-disrupting compounds and pharmaceutical drugs, as well as conventional pollutants,” said Dr. Richard O. Mines, professor of environmental engineering and director of the School of Engineering’s graduate programs.

Both programs are designed for working professionals, with most courses offered once a week in the evenings. The programs have four major areas of study, where students will study the most advanced techniques and models in biotechnology and remediation, water quality, solid and hazardous waste and air quality issues. A number of the courses include an emphasis on green engineering and sustainable design. The programs also emphasize management, adding skills in leadership and project management while also upgrading each student’s scientific and engineering skills.

The Master of Science in Engineering in environmental engineering is designed for students with an undergraduate degree in any area of engineering. Earning an environmental engineering degree will allow the graduate to be eligible for registration as a professional engineer after passing the fundamentals of engineering examination. In addition, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying has approved new rules that will eventually require applicants for the professional engineer certification to obtain a master’s degree or equivalent to be eligible for the exam

The Master of Science in environmental systems offers practicing professionals with backgrounds in biology, chemistry and environmental science the opportunity to take advanced courses related to environmental engineering and science, which will extend their knowledge and enable them to effectively work on multidisciplinary teams to solve challenging environmental problems. The degree is available to students with an undergraduate degree in any area of science. Earning the Master of Science in environmental systems also makes the graduate eligible for registration on the National Registry of Environmental Professionals.

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