College of Engineering launches new Masters program

Kate Carrubba

In keeping with the University’s push to “go green,” the College of Engineering has launched a Master’s degree program in Sustainable Engineering as well as a certificate in Sustainable Engineering.

The requirements for the MS degree consist of 30 credits, or 10 courses. 

The foundation of the program incorporates three core courses, after which students enroll in four courses in a specific track and three elective courses. The specialized tracks of study include sustainable energy, watershed sustainability environmental sustainability, or sustainable infrastructure and built environment. The elective courses may be taken out of any track, or a student can substitute three courses of research instead.

“Sustainable engineering is an ever-growing field,” said Randy Weinstein, chair of the department of chemical engineering and director of the MS in the Sustainable Engineering program. Though there is no “green” company, the skyrocketing costs of energy have led to more companies searching out environmentally sustainable cost-cutting measures, which is where the sustainable engineering program comes in.

The program is multidisciplinary, meaning that students will understand the principles of sustainability in engineering design and practice, as well as learn about sustainability in the more general areas of economics, policy, societal implications and ethics. 

The core courses offer input from the School of Business and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in order to determine how to establish monetary values on the sustainability process.

The program offers flexibility to its students, especially those who are already full-time working engineers. Students may participate on a part-time or full-time basis, choose to incorporate a thesis into their research and pursue a full degree or a less strenuous graduate certificate. Courses are scheduled in the evenings in order to accommodate working engineers, and many of the courses are offered online through the University.

The University is also offering a graduate certificate in Sustainable Engineering. In order to receive the certificate, a student must take 15 credits, or five courses. The five necessary courses consist of a minimum of two core courses, two courses from one of the specific tracks and one course from any of the tracks or from the core offerings. The graduate certificate may be obtained through online Distance Learning, though a student may be required to be online live during some courses.

The MS program is not limited to students with an engineering background. It is possible for liberal arts students to participate, though it is recommended that they have a minimum of three semesters each of calculus and science courses. Also, prospective students should have taken two engineering courses during their undergraduate careers.

The program currently enrolls 15 students in its inaugural semester, though eventually it will accept a maximum of 40. The participants range from students who have recently finished their undergraduate work to older, full-time working engineers. Engineers and students from all over the country have shown interest in the program, though it is likely that participants from the West Coast will choose to obtain a graduate certificate through distance learning courses.

Weinstein cites a 1987 United Nations discussion to define the concept of sustainable engineering as “how to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.” To that end, Weinstein believes that the new MS degree will enable graduates to utilize problem solving and product development in a safe and economic fashion that does not harm the environment or future societies.