University of California, Riverside

Department of Chemical Engineering

Environmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering

What is Environmental Engineering?

Environmental Engineering is the discipline that focuses on the assessment, management, and design of sustainable environmental systems for the protection of human and ecological health. Environmental engineers design systems to provide safe drinking water, treat and properly dispose of wastes, maintain air quality, control water pollution, and clean up sites contaminated due to spills or improper disposal of hazardous substances. They monitor the quality of the air, water, and land. And, they constantly seek new and improved means to protect the environment.

Although many people are concerned about the state of our environment, environmental engineers are the people who do things to protect it from damage and to correct existing problems. Environmental engineers possess the scientific and technical knowledge to identify, design, build, and operate systems that make modern society possible. In addition to being a field for doing, the environmental engineering field and environmental engineering education are multi-disciplinary. To address the spectrum of issues facing the environment, environmental engineers are broadly educated, as well as technically trained.

What do Environmental Engineering Students Learn?

Like most engineering students, environmental engineering students develop a strong background in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. However, the breadth and multidisciplinary nature of environmental issues requires that environmental engineers expand their skills beyond the range normally associated with any single engineering field. Depending upon their specific career goals, environmental engineers gain knowledge and skills in areas such as microbiology, ecology, toxicology, chemical technology, geology, water and atmospheric chemistry, hydrology, soil science, computers, economics, and law. They learn important problem-solving and teamwork skills to accomplish goals. Environmental engineers become skilled at analysis and design, and learn to apply their knowledge to protect the environment and human health.

Where do Environmental Engineers Work?

Environmental engineers work in many places. Common employment opportunities include:

  • engineering consulting firms that design and construct air and water pollution-control systems,
  • firms that assess environmental and public health risks associated with past, present, and future human activities,
  • industries that seek to produce more environmentally friendly devices and systems,
  • industries that responsibly treat their air or wastewater discharges,
  • private and municipal agencies that supply drinking water,
  • companies that treat and dispose of hazardous chemicals,
  • companies that operate treatment facilities for municipalities or industries,
  • government agencies that monitor and regulate air, water, and solid waste discharges,
  • universities that teach and conduct research on environmental control,
  • private and government laboratories that develop the new generations of pollution-control systems,
  • international agencies that transfer knowledge and technology to the developing world, and
  • public-interest groups that advocate environmental protection.


More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

College Information

Bourns College of Engineering
446 Winston Chung Hall

Tel: (951) 827-5190
Fax: (951) 827-3188