UT introduces new environmental engineering degree

Kayla Meyertons

The Cockrell School of Engineering announced Wednesday it will add a new Bachelor of Science degree in environmental engineering to its curriculum, according to a UT press release.

The program will focus on the chemistry and biology aspects of engineering, including four areas of specialization in air, climate control, water resources and contaminants.

Engineering advising coordinator Sarah Shields said the process of creating the new degree has been going on for three or four years now.

“It’s been a master’s degree for a very long time here,” Shields said. “It felt natural to take that next step and make it an undergraduate program as well.”

According to the press release, the school’s graduate program in environmental and water resources engineering is ranked No. 4 by U.S. & World Reports. 

Shields said students were previously only able to major in civil engineering with an unofficial focus in environmental engineering, and now it’s a separate degree plan.

Civil, architectural and environmental engineering will all be separate majors, and the school expects numbers of incoming civil and chemical engineering students to drop, Shields said.  

Richard Corsi, chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, said there are a lot of jobs in the field of environmental engineering, and he said the number of inquiries for this degree from parents and high school students has increased.

“It’s a degree that allows you to move between serious issues that need to be dealt with in this society,” Corsi said. “There seems to be this surge in interest among young people around issues of sustainability and to do something good for the world.”

Civil engineering senior Nina Lobo said she thinks it’s good a lot of people are becoming more environmentally minded.

“The world is headed that direction if it isn’t already 100 percent smack in it already,” Lobo said. “We have the technical credential to back us up and the spirit and mind to want to really care, and I think those are really powerful things that are going to come together soon.”

Shields said the school has seen a variety of students show interest in the environmental engineering degree, including public health and pre-law majors. 

“It’s a nice mix of not just engineering and science, but also social justice and global concerns,” Shields said. 

Internal first-year transfer students will be able to register in the spring for the environmental engineering foundations course. 

The degree will be open to incoming freshmen in the fall of 2017.