Purdue offering new advanced degrees in environmental and ecological engineering

November 24, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has approved master's and doctoral degree programs in environmental and ecological engineering at Purdue University. 

The new degrees will be administered by the university's Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering.

"Purdue's EEE program has consistently broken new ground by engaging faculty from across the College of Engineering and across Purdue in highly interdisciplinary research and education," said Leah Jamieson, Purdue's John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering and Ransburg Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "EEE's new graduate programs are an important addition to Purdue, as well as to the entire environmental and ecological engineering field."

John W. Sutherland, the Fehsenfeld Family Head of Environmental and Ecological Engineering (EEE), said that establishing the graduate degree program is an important milestone as EEE approaches its 10th anniversary next year.

"The EEE program imparts an approach of managing complex problems with an integrated perspective that considers both environmental issues and ecological interactions" he said. "The curriculum educates engineers to apply their technical understanding of systems engineering, biology and chemistry to develop strategies to protect human and environmental health. A distinctive feature of EEE learning and discovery relative to other universities is our focus on reducing the energy, water, carbon and material footprints of industrial operations."

The master's and doctoral degrees add a new option to the College of Engineering's portfolio at a time when employment in the discipline is projected to grow significantly in the next decade. Purdue students interested in an environmental engineering career will gain access to an innovative and affordable advanced professional credential. About half of surveyed environmental engineers assert that an advanced degree is necessary for their job, Sutherland said.

"There are a number of students ready to join us who have been waiting for the approval of the EEE graduate program," he said. "The target size of the EEE graduate program is 90 students; we should be producing 20 M.S. and 10 Ph.D. graduates per year within five to six years."

Purdue will award its first advanced degrees in environmental and ecological engineering in May 2017.

The program engages faculty from across the campus to deliver EEE courses and mentor graduate students.

"Our multidisciplinary faculty engagement model allows us to bring together the diverse expertise needed to attack the complex engineering issues that must be addressed to ensure environmental sustainability," Sutherland said.

He said the demand for students with an environmental and ecological engineering degree is strong; the rate of environmental engineering job growth is the second highest of all engineering disciplines, lagging behind only biomedical engineering. EEE also is an attractive engineering discipline for women. The students in the undergraduate degree program were 51 percent female in fall 2014. That compares with enrollments of 22 percent female for all of engineering and 42.6 percent female for all of Purdue. 

Writer: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu 

Sources: Leah Jamieson, 765-494-5346, lhj@purdue.edu

John Sutherland, 765-496-9697, jwsuther@purdue.edu

Nina L. Robinson, 765.496.7578, nlrobins@purdue.edu 

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