College of Engineering News Room

USF College of Engineering to Offer an Undergraduate Degree in Environmental Engineering

The College of Engineering at the University of South Florida will initiate a new undergraduate program in environmental engineering for fall semester 2022. The Florida Board of Governors approved the new degree during the recent spring session.

The field of environmental engineering is supported by public sentiment for protecting natural resources, human health and by laws aimed at curtailing environmental damage.

“There is an increasing awareness among students that attracts them to careers where they can have a positive impact on the environment,” said Robert H. Bishop, Dean of the College of Engineering. “The program is an exciting addition to college’s already robust nationally ranked graduate program in environmental engineering.”

The proposed environmental engineering program is designed to prepare graduates for high-demand, well-paying jobs in Florida and beyond. Graduates will have employment opportunities with industry, engineering design firms, local, state, and federal governments, as well as nongovernmental organizations. They’ll also have numerous opportunities to advance their education at the master’s or PhD levels. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for environmental engineers is $92,201.

“Environmental Engineering is a growing field, in terms of both importance and job prospects,” said Jeffrey Cunningham, associate professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department (CEE). “I know that our new program will benefit our USF students and the state of Florida in general.”

Florida relies on environmental engineers to provide economic and social opportunities for an increasing population, such as reliable water and wastewater systems and management of nutrient pollution that has adversely impacted our springs, lakes and coasts. Environmental engineers work to improve urban air quality, protect public health, restore the Everglades and commercial and industrial brownfields, among other infrastructure improvements.

environmental engineering lab

“Florida was ahead of many other states in implementing advanced wastewater regulations in the 1970s, but now those facilities need to be upgraded to the latest technologies,” said CEE Professor Sarina Ergas. “Florida is also dealing with major issues of flooding and sewer overflows due to sea level rise, as well as impacts of urban and agricultural runoff contributing to harmful algal blooms. Our students will be trained to tackle these challenges through courses, experiential learning in labs and field work as well as engagement in research.”

The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering will meet national ABET engineering accreditation requirements and emphasize the themes of (1) infrastructure, (2) sustainability, (3) health, (4) data science, and (5) global citizenship. Graduates will support several critical infrastructures identified by the White House to be so vital that their breakdown would have a debilitating effect on security, economic development, public health, and safety (Presidential Policy Directive PPD-21).

“We are excited to give students the opportunity to build careers that apply science, technology, and data to address the many local to global environmental challenges and opportunities around them, such as coastal climate resilience, sustainable urban infrastructure, restoration of natural areas, air and water quality, and protection of public health,” said Amy Stuart, professor in both the CEE department and College of Public Health.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of environmental engineers and environmental health and safety engineers is very strong and will continue to grow over the next 10 years, especially in Florida. The program also provides students with a route to work as a health and safety engineer after graduation. In 2018, rated environmental engineering in the top 25% of 162 college degrees based on earning potential and employment. U.S. News & World Report Money has ranked environmental engineering as one of their top 3 Best Engineering Jobs and stated that “top companies in the environmental sector are expanding their global reach.”